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— BY — 

Charles G. Harper. 

THE BRIGHTON ROAD : The Classic Highway 

to the South. 
THE GREAT NORTH ROAD : London to York. 
THE GREAT NORTH ROAD : York to Edinburgh. 
THE DOVER ROAD : Annals of an Ancient 

THE BATH ROAD : History, Fashion and 

Frivolity on an old Highway. 

London to Manchester. 
THE MANCHESTER ROAD : Manchester to 


THE HOLYHEAD ROAD : London to Birming- 

THE HOLYHEAD ROAD : Birmingham to 

THE HASTINGS ROAD : And The " Happy 

Springs of Tun bridge." 

HAVEN ROAD : London to Gloucester. 

HAVEN ROAD : Gloucester to Milford Haven. 
THE NORWICH ROAD. An East Anglian 


THE EXETER ROAD : The West of England 



Digitized by tine Internet Arcliive 

in 2007 witli funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



From the painting by Sir Thomas Latrrence, R.A. 



The Classic Highway to the South 

Illustrated by the Author, and from old-time 
Prints and Pictures 

London : 


Oakley House, Bloomsbury Street, W.C. i 

First Published - 1892 

Second Edition ■ 1906 

Third and Revised Edition - 1922 

Printed in Great Britain by C. Ti!»liiio & Co., Ltd. 
53, Victoria Street, Liverpool, 
and 187, Fleet Street, London. 




71 /fANY years ago it occurred to this writer that it 
■A r -» would bean interesting thing to write and illustrate 
a book on the Road to Brighton. The genesis of that 
thought has been forgotten, but the book was written and 
published, and has long been out of print. And there 
might have been the end of it, but that {from no preconceived 
plan) there has since been added a long series of books on 
others of our great highways, rendering imperative 
re-issu^s of the parent volume. 

Two considerations have made that undertaking a 
matter of considerable difficulty, either of them sufficiently 
weighty. The first was that the original book was written 



at a time when the author had not arrived at a settled 
method ; the second is found in the fact of the Brighton 
Road being not only the best known of highways, but also 
the one most susceptible to change. 

When it is remembered that motor-cars have come upon 
the roads since then, that innumerable sporting " records " 
in cycling, walking, and other forms of progression have 
since been made, and that in many other ways the road 
is different, it was seen that not merely a re-issue of the 
book, but a book almost entirely re-written and re-illustrated 
was required. This, then, is what was provided in a 
second edition, published in 1906. And now another, 
the third, is issued, bringing the story of this highway up 
to date. 


March, 1922. 



Westminster Bridge (Surrey side) 


St. Mark's Church, Kennington .... IJ 

Brixton Church 


Streatham .... 


Norbury ..... 


Thornton Heath 


Croydon (\Vhitgift's Hospital) 


Puriey Corner .... 


Smitham Bottom 


Coulsdon Railway Station . 


Merstham .... 


Redhill (Market Hall) 


Horiey (" Chequers ") 


Povey Cross 


Kimberham Bridge 


(Cross River Mole) 

Lowfield Heath 


Crawley .... 


Pease Pottage . 


Hand Cross 


Staplefield Common . 

. 34| 

Slough Green 


Whiteman's Green 


Cuckfleld .... 


Ansty Cross 


Bridge Farm 


(Cross River Adur) 

St. John's Common . 


" Friar's Oak " Inn . 






Clayton .... 




Patcham .... 




Preston .... 


Brighton (Aquarium) 


The Sutton and Reigati 

. Route 

St, Mark's, Kennington 


Tooting Broadway 


Mitcham .... 


Sutton (" Greyhound ") 




Lower Kingswood 


Reigate Hill 


Reigate (Town Hall) . 


Woodhatch (" Old Angel ") 


Povey Cross 


Brighton .... 


The Bolney and Hickstead Route 

Hand Cross 33^ 

Bolney 39 

Hickstead 40J 

Savers Common ...... 42 

Newtimbcr ....... 44J 

Pyecombe ....... 45 

Brighton 50i 



George the Fourth . . Frontispiece 

Sketch-map showing Principal Routes to 

Brighton . . . . . . 4 

Stage Waggon, 1808 13 

The " Talbot " Inn Yard, Borough, about 1815 17 

Me and My Wife and Daughter ... 19 

The " Duke of Beaufort " Coach starting from 
the " Bull and Mouth " Office, Piccadilly 

Circus, 1826 31 

The " Age," 1829, starting from Castle Square, 

Brighton . . . . . . 35 

Sir Charles Dance's Steam-carriage leaving 

London for Brighton, 1833 . . . 39 

The Brighton Day Mails crossing Hookwood 

Common, 1838 43 

The " Age," 1852, crossing Ham Common . 47 

The " Old Times," 1888 . . . . 51 

The " Comet," 1890 . . . . . 55 

John Mayall, Junior, 1869 . . . . 70 

The Stock Exchange Walk: E. F. Broad at 

Horley 83 

Miss M. Foster, paced by Motor Cycle, passing 

Coulsdon . . . . . .86 

Kennington Gate : Derby Day, 1839 . . 95 

Streatham Common ..... 101 

Streatham ....... 107 

The Dining Hall, Whitgift Hospital . . Ill 



The Chapel, Hospital of the Holy Trinity 


Croydon Town Hall 



Chipstead Church . 



Merstham .... 



Gatton Hall and " Town Hall " 



The Switchback Road, Earlswood Common 


Thunderfield Castle 


The " Chequers," Horley 


The " Six Bells," Horley 


The " Cock," Sutton, 1789 . 


Kingswood Warren 


The Suspension Bridge, Reigate 



The Tunnel, Reigate 


Tablet; Batswing Cottages 

.' 172 

The Floods at Horley . 


Charlwood .... 


A Corner in Newdigate Church 


On the Road to Newdigate 


Ifield Mill Pond . 


Crawley : Looking South 


Crawley, 1789 


An Old Cottage at Crawley 


The " George," Crawley 


Sculptured Emblem of the 

Holy Trinity 

Crawley Church 


Pease Pottage 


The " Red Lion," Hand Cross 


Cuckfield, 1789 . 


The Road out of Cuckfield 


Cuckfield Place . 



The Clock-Tower and Haunted Avenue, Cuck- 

field Place .... 
Harrison Ainsworth 
Old Sussex Fireback, Ridden's Farm 
Jacob's Post .... 

Clayton Tunnel .... 
Clayton Church and the South Downs 
The Ruins of Slaugham Place 
The Entrance : Ruins of Slaugham Place 
Bolney ..... 

From a Brass at Slaugham 
Hickstead Place .... 
Newtimber Place .... 
Pyecombe : Junction of the Roads 
Patcham ..... 
Old Dovecot, Patcham . 
Preston Viaduct : Entrance to Brighton 
The Pavilion .... 

The Cliffs, Brighthelmstone, 1789 . 
Dr. Richard Russell 

St. Nicholas, the old Parish Church of Bright 
helmstone .... 

The Aquarium, before destruction of the 
























The road to Brighton — the main route, pre-eminently 
the road — is measured from the south side of West- 
minster Bridge to the Aquarium. It goes by Croydon, 
Redhill, Horley, Crawley, and Cuckfield, and is (or is 
supposed to be) 51 1 miles in length. Of this prime 
route — the classic way^there are several longer or 
shorter variations, of which the way through Clapham, 
Mitcham, Sutton, and Reigate, to Povey Cross is the 
chief. The modern " record " route is the first of 
these two, so far as Hand Cross, where it branches 
off and, instead of going through Cuckfield, proceeds 
to Brighton by way of Hickstead and Bolney, avoiding 
Clayton Hill and rejoining the initial route at 

The oldest road to Brighton is now but little used. 
It is not to be indicated in few words, but may be 
taken as the line of road from London Bridge, along 
the Kennington Road, to Brixton, Croydon, Godstone 
Green, Tilburstow Hill, Blindley Heath, East Grinstead, 
Maresfield, Uckfield, and Lewes ; some fifty-nine miles. 
This is without doubt the most picturesque route. A 
circuitous way, travelled by some coaches was by 


Ewell, Leatherhead, Dorking, Horsham, and Mock- 
bridge (doubtless, bearing in mind the ancient mires 
of Sussex, originally " Muckbridge "), and was 57| 
miles in length. An extension of this route lay from 
Horsham through Steyning, bringing up the total 
mileage to sixty-one miles three furlongs. 

This multiplicity of ways meant that, in the variety 
of winding lanes which led to the Sussex coast, long 
before the fisher village of Brighthelmstone became that 
fashionable resort, Brighton, there were places on the 
way quite as important to the old waggoners and 
carriers as anything at the end of the journey. They 
set out the direction, and roads, when they began to 
be improved, were often merely the old routes widened, 
straightened, and metalled. They were kept ^■ery 
largely to the old lines, and it was not until quite late 
in the history of Brighton that the present " record " 
route in its entirety existed at all. 

Among the many isolated roads made or improved, 
which did not in the beginning contemplate getting 
to Brighton at all, the pride of place certainly belongs 
to the ten miles between Reigate and Crawley, 
originally made as a causeway for horsemen, and 
guarded by posts, so that wheeled traffic could not 
pass. This was constructed under the Act 8th 
William III., 1696, and was the first new road made 
in Surrey since the time of the Romans. 

It remained as a causeway until 1755, when it was 
widened and thrown open to all traffic, on paying toll. 
It was not only the first road to be made, but the last 
to maintain toll-gates on the way to Brighton, the 
Reigate Turnpike Trust expiring on the midnight of 
October 31st, 1881, from which time the Brighton 
Road became free throughout. 

Meanwhile, the road from London to Croydon was 
repaired in 1718 ; and at the same time the road from 
London to Sutton was declared to be " dangerous to 
all persons, horses, and other cattle," and almost 
impassable during five months of the year, and was 
therefore repaired, and toll-gates set up along it. 


Between 1739 and 1749 Westminster Bridge was 
building, and the roads in South London, ineluding 
the Westminster Bridge Road and the Kennington 
Road, were being made. In 1755 the road (about ten 
miles) aeross the heaths and downs from Sutton to 
Reigate, was authorised, and in 1770 the Act was 
passed for widening and repairing the lanes from 
Povey Cross to County Oak and Brighthelmstone, by 
Cuckfield. By this time, it will be seen, Brighton 
had begun to be the goal of these improvements. 

The New Chapel and Copthorne road, on the East 
Grinstead route, was constructed under the Act of 
1770, the route aeross St. John's Common and Burgess 
Hill remodelled in 1780, and the road from South 
Croydon to Smitham Bottom, Merstham, and Reigate 
was engineered out of the narrow lanes formerl}'^ 
existing on that line in 1807-8, being opened, " at 
present toll-free," June 4th, 1808. 

In 1813 the Bolney and Hiekstead road, between 
Hand Cross and Pyecombe, was opened, and in 1816 
the slip-road, avoiding Reigate, through Redhill, to 
Povey Cross. Finally, sixty yards were saved on the 
Reigate route by the cutting of the tunnel under 
Reigate Castle, in 1823. In this way the Brighton 
road, on its several branches, grew to be what it is now. 

The Brighton Road, it has already been said, is 
measured from the south side of Westminster Bridge, 
which is the proper starting-point for record-makers 
and breakers ; but it has as many beginnings as 
Homer had birthplaces. Modern coaches and motor- 
car services set out from the barrack-like hotels of 
Northumberland Avenue, or other central points, and 
the old carriers came to and went from the Borough 
High Street ; but the Corinthian starting-point in the 
brave old days of the Regency and of George the 
Fourth was the " White Horse Cellar "— Hatchett's 
" White Horse Cellar "—in Piccadilly. There, any 
day throughout the year, the knowing ones were 
gathered — with those green goslings who wished to be 
thought knowing — exchanging the latest scandal and 

sporting gossip of the road, 
and rooking and being rooked ; 
the high-coloured, full-blooded 
ancestors of the present 
generation, which looks upon 
them as a quite different order 
of beings, and can scarce 
believe in the reality of those 
full habits, those port-wine 
countenances, those florid gar- 
ments that were characteristic 
of the age. 

No one now starts from the 
" White Horse Cellar," for the 
excellent reason that it does 
not now exist. The original 
" Cellar " was a queer place. 
Figure to yourself a basement 
room, with sanded floor, and 
an odour like that of a wine- 
vault, crowded with Regency 
bucks drinking or discussing 
huge beef- steaks. 

It was situated on the south 
side of Piccadilly, where the 
Hotel Ritz now stands, and 
is first mentioned in 1720, 
when it was given its name by 
Williams, the landlord, in 
compliment to the House of 
Hanover, the newly-estab- 
lished Royal House of Great 
Britain, whose cognizance was 
a white horse. Abraham 
natchett first made the Cellar 
famous, both as a boozing- 
ken and a coach-office, and 
removed it to the opposite 
side of the street, where, as 
" Hatchett's Hotel and White 



i Tooting '<K Sfreatham 











feasefotkoe 9ate 

k< Hand Cross 

Mbotuv^ \ 






Horse Cellar," it remained until 1884, when the present 
" Albemarle " arose on its site, with a " White Horse " 
restaurant in the basement. 

What Piccadilly and the neighbourhood of the 
" White Horse Cellar " were like in the times of Tom 
and Jerry we may easily discover from the con- 
temporary pages of " Real Life in London," written 
by one " Bob Tallyho," recounting the adv^entures of 
himself and " Tom Dashall." A prize-fight was to 
be held on Copthorne Common between Jack Randall, 
" the Nonpareil " — called in the pronunciation of that 
time the " Nunparell " — and Martin, endeared to 
"the Fancy" as the "Master of the Rolls."* 
Naturally, the roadswere thronged, and "Piccadilly 
was all in motion — coaches, carts, gigs, tilburies, 
whiskies, buggies, dogcarts, sociables, dennets, curricles, 
and sulkies were passing in rapid succession, inter- 
mingled with tax-carts and waggons decorated with 
laurel, conveying company of the most varied descrip- 
tion. Here was to be seen the dashing Corinthian 
tickling up his tits, and his hang-up set-out of hlood and 
bone, giving the go-by to a heavy drag laden with eight 
brawny, bull-faced blades, smoking their way down 
behind a skeleton of a horse, to whom, in all probability, 
a good feed of corn would have been a luxury ; 
pattering among themselves, occasionally chaffing the 
more elevated drivers by whom they were surrounded, 
and pushing forward their nags with all the ardour of 
a British merchant intent upon disposing of a valuable 
cargo of foreign goods on 'Change. There was a 
waggon full of all sorts upon the lark, succeeded by a 
donkey-caH with four insides ; but Neddy, not liking 
his burthen, stopped short in the way of a dandy, whose 
horse's head, coming plump up to the back of the crazy , 
vehicle at the moment of its stopj)age, threw the- rider 
into the arms of a dustman, who, hugging his customer 
with the determined grasp of a bear, swore, d — n his 
eyes, he had saved his life, and he expected he would 
stand something handsome for the Gemmen all round, 

*nc was a baker : hence the uickaame. 


for if he had not ])itched into their cart he would 
certainly have broke his neck ; which being complied 
with, though reluctantly, he regained his saddle, and 
proceeded a little more cautiously along the remainder 
of the road, Avhile groups of pedestrians of all ranks 
and appearances lined each side." 

On their way they pass Hyde Park Corner, where 
they encounter one of a notorious trio of brothers, 
friends of the Prince Regent and companions of his in 
every sort of excess — the Barrymores, to wit, named 
severally Hellgate, Newgate, and Cripplegate, the last 
of this unholy trinity so called because of his chronic 
limping ; the two others' titles, taken with the 
characters of their bearers, are self-explanatory. 

Dashall points his lordship out to his companion, who 
is new to London life, and requires such explanations. 

" The driver of that tilbury," says he, " is the 
celebrated Lord C'rijjplcgate,* with his usual equipage ; 
his blue cloak with a scarlet hning hanging loosely 
over the vehicle gives an air of importance to his 
appearance, and he is always attended by that boy, 
who has been denominated his Cupid : he is a nobleman 
by birth, a gentleman by courtesy (oh, witty Dashall I), 
and a gamester by j)rofession. He exhausted a large 
estate upon odd and even, serenes the main, etc., till, 
having lost sight of the main chance, he found it 
necessary to curtail his establishment and enliven his 
prospects by exchanging a first floor for a second, 
without an opportunity of ascertaining whether or not 
these alterations were best suited to his high notions 
or exalted taste ; from which, in a short time, he was 
induced, either by inclination or necessity, to take a 
small lodging in an obscure street, and to sport a gig 
and one horse, instead of a curricle and pair, though 
in former times he used to drive four-in-hand, and was 
acknowledged to be an excellent whip. He still, 
however, possessed money enough to collect together 
a large quantity of halfpence, which in his hours of 
relaxation he managed to turn to good account by the 

* Henry Barry, Earl of Barry more, in the peerage of Irelaud. 


Ibllowiiig stratagem : — He distributed liis halfpence on 
the floor of his little parlour in straight lines, and 
ascertained how many it would require to cover it. 
Having thus prepared himself, he invited some wealthy 
spendthrifts (with whom he still had the power of 
associating) to sup with him, and he welcomed them 
to his habitation with much cordiality. The glass 
circulated freely, and each recounted his gaming or 
amorous adventures till a late hour, when, the effects 
of the bottle becoming visible, he proposed, as a 
momentary suggestion, to name how many halfpence, 
laid side by side, would carpet the floor, and 
offered to lay a large wager that he would guess 
the nearest. 

" ' Done ! done ! ' was echoed round the room. 
Every one made a deposit of £100, and every one made 
a guess, equally certain of success ; and his lordship 
declaring he had a large stock of halfpence by him, 
though perhaps not enough, the experiment was to bo 
tried immediately. 'Twas an excellent hit ! 

" The room was cleared ; to it they went ; the 
halfpence were arranged rank and file in military 
order, when it appeared that his lordship had certainly 
guessed (as well he might) nearest to the number. 
The consequence was an immediate alteration of his 
lordship's residence and appearance : he got one step 
in the world by it. He gave up his second-hand gig 
for one warranted new ; and a change in his vehicle 
may pretty generally be considered as the barometer 
of his pocket." 

And so, with these jiiquant biographical remarks, 
they betook themselves along the road in the early 
morning, passing on their way many curious itinerants, 
whose trades have changed and decayed, and are now 
become nothing but a dim and misty memory ; as, for 
instance, the sellers of warm " salop," the forerunners 
of the early coffee-stalls of our own day. 



But hats off to the Prince of Wales, the Prince Regent 
the King ! Never, while the Brighton Road remains 
the road to Brighton, shall it be dissociated from George 
the Fourth, who, as Prince, had a palace at either end, 
and made these fifty-odd miles in a very special sense 
a Via Regia. It was in 1782, when but twenty years 
of age, that he first knew Brighton, and until the last — 
for close upon forty-eight years — it retained his 
affections. He is thus the presiding genius of the 
way ; and because, when we speak or think of the 
Brighton Road, we cannot help thinking of him, I 
have appropriately placed the portrait of George the 
Fourth, by the courtly Lawrence, in this book. 

The Prince and King was the inevitable product 
of his times and of his upbringing : we mostly are. 
Only the rarest and most forceful figures can mould 
the world to their own form. 

The character of George the Fourth has been the 
theme of writers upon history and sociology, of 
essayists, diarists, and gossip-mongers without number, 
and most of then have pictured him in very dark 
colours indeed. But Horace Walpole, perhaps the 
clearest-headed of this company, shows in his " Last 
Journals " that from his boyhood the Prince was 
governed in the stupidest way — in a manner, indeed, 
but too well fitted to spoil a spirit so high and so 
impetuous, and impulses so generous as then were his. 

He proves what we may abundantly learn from 
other sources, that the narrow-minded and obstinate 
George the Third, petty and parochial in public and in 
private, was jealous of his son's superior parts, and 
endeavoured to hide his light beneath the bushel of 
seclusion and inadequate training. It was impossible 
for such a father to appreciate cither the qualities or 
the defects of such a son. " The uncommunicative 
selfishness and pride of George the Third confined him 
to domestic virtues," says Walpole, and adds, " Nothing 
could equal the King's attention to seclude his son 


and protract his nonage. It went so absurdly far that 
he was made to wear a shirt with a frilled collar like 
that of babies. He one day took hold of his collar 
and said to a domestic, ' See how I am treated ! ' " 

The Duke of Montagu, too, was charged with the 
education of the Prince, and " he was utterly incapable 
of giving him any kind of instruction. . . . The 
Prince was so good-natured, but so uninformed, that 
he often said, ' I wish anybody would tell me what I 
ought to do ; nobody gives me any instruction for my 
conduct.' " The absolute poverty of the instruction 
afforded him, the false and narrow ways of the royal 
household, and the evil example and low companionship 
of his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, did much to 
spoil the Prince. 

To quote Walpole again : " It made men smile 
to find that in the palace of {)iety and pride his Royal 
Highness had learnt nothing but the dialect of footmen 
and grooms. . . . He drunk hard, swore, and passed 
every night in * . . . ; such were the fruits of his 
being locked up in the palace of piety." 

He proved, too, an intractable and undutiful son ; 
but that was the result to be expected, and we cannot 
join Thackeray in his sentimental snivel over George 
the Third. 

He was a faithless husband, but his wife was 
impossible, and even the mob who supported her 
quailed when the Marquis of Anglesey, baited in front of 
his house and compelled to drink her health, did so with 
the bitter rider, "And may all your wives be like her ! " 
All high-spirited young England flocked to the side 
of the Prince of Wales. He was the Grand Master of 
Corinthianism and Tom-and-.Jerryism. It was he who 
peopled these roads with a numerous and brilliant 
concourse of whirling travellers, where before had been 
only infrequent plodders amidst the Sussex sloughs. 
To his ])rince]y presence, radiant by the Old Steyne, 
hasted all manner of people ; prince and prizefighter, 

• Hiatus In the Journals, arranged by the editor for benefit of 
the Young Person ! 


statesman and nobleman ; beauties noble and ignoble, 
and all who lived their lives. There he made incautious 
guests helplessly drunk on the potent old brandy he 
called " Diabolino," and then exposed them in 
embarrassing situations ; and there — let us remember 
it — he entertained, and was the beneficent patron of, 
the foremost artists and literary men of his age. The 
Zeitgeist (the Spirit of the Time) resided in, was 
personified in, and radiated from him. He was the 
First Gentleman in Europe, but is to us, in the perspec- 
tive of a hundred years or so, something more : the 
type and exemplar of an age. 

He should have been endowed with perennial youth, 
but even his s[)lendid vitality faded at last, and he 
grew stout. Leigh Hunt called him a " fat Adonis of 
fifty," and was flung into prison. for it ; and prison is 
a fitting place for a satirist who is stupid enough to see 
a misdemeanour in those misfortunes. No one who 
could help it would be fat, or fifty. Besides, to accuse 
one royal personage of being fat is to reflect upon all : 
it is an accompaniment of royalty. 

Thackeray denounced his wig ; but there is a 
prejudice in favour of flowing locks, and the King 
gracefully acknowledged it. One is not damned for 
being fat, fifty, and wearing a wig ; and it seems a 
curious code of morality that would have it so ; for 
although we may not all lose our hair nor grow fat, 
we must all, if we are not to die young, grow old and 
pass the grand climacteric. 

There has been too much abuse of the Regency 
times. Where modern moralists, folded within their 
little sheep-walks from observation of the real world, 
mistake is in comparing those times with these, to 
the disadvantage of the past. They know nothing of 
life in the round, and seeing it only in the flat, cannot 
predicate what exists on the other side. To them 
there is, indeed, no other side, and things, despite the 
poet, are what they seem, and nothing else. 

They lash the manners of the Regency, and think 
they are dealing out punishment to a bygone state of 


things ; but human nature is the same in all centuries. 
The fact is so obv ious that one is ashamed to state it. 
The Regency was a terrible time for gambling ; but 
Tranby Croft had a similar repute when Edward the 
Seventh was Prince of Wales. Bridge is a fine game, 
and what, think you, supports the evening newspapers ? 
The news ? Certainly : the Betting News. Cock- 
fighting was a brutal sport, and is now illegal, but is 
it dead ? Oh dear,, no. Virtue was not general in 
the picturesque times of George the Fourth. Is it 
now ? Study the Cause Lists of the Divorce Courts. 
Worse offences are still punished by law, but are later 
condoned or explained by Society as an eccentricity. 
Society a hundred years ago did not plumb such 

In short, behind the surface of things, the Regency 
riot not only exists, but is outdone, and Tom and Jerry, 
could they return, would find themselves very dull 
dogs indeed. It is all the doing of the middle classes, 
that the veil is thrown over these things. In times 
when the middle class and the Nonconformist 
Conscience traditionally lived at Clapham, it mattered 
comparatively little what excesses were committed ; 
but that class has so increased that it has to be sub- 
divided into Upper and Lower, and has Claphams of 
its own everywhere. It is — or they are— more wealthy 
than before, and they read things, you know, and are 
a power in Parliament, and are something in the 
dominie sort to those other classes above and below. 


The coaching and waggoning liistory of the road to 
Brighthelmstone (as it then was called) emerges dimly 
out of the formless ooze of tradition in 1681. In De 
Laune's " Present State of Great Britain," published 
in that year, in the course of a list of carriers^ coaches, 
and stage-waggons in and out of London, we find 


Thomas Blewman, carrier, coming from " Bredhemp- 
stone " to the " Queen's Head," ^outhwark, on 
Wednesdays, and, setting forth again on Thursdays, 
reaching Shoreham the same day : which was remark- 
ably good travelUng for a carrier's waggon in the 
seventeenth century. Here, then, we have the Father 
Adam, the great original, so far as records can tell us, 
of all the after charioteers of the Brighton Road. It 
is not until 1732, that, from the pages of " New 
Remarks on London," published by the Company of 
Parish Clerks, we hear anything further. At that date 
a coach set out on Thursdays from the " Talbot," in 
the Borough High Street, and a van on Tuesdays from 
the " Talbot " and the " George." In the summer 
of 1745 the " Flying Machine " left the " Old Ship," 
Brighthelmstone at 5.30 a.m., and reached Southwark 
in the evening. 

But the first extended and authoritative notice is 
found in 1746, when the widow of the Lewes carrier 
advertised in The Lewes Journal of December 8th that 
she was continuing the business : 

Thomas Smith, the Old Lewes Carrier, being dead, 


SMITH, who gets into the " George Inn," in the Borough, 
Southwark, every Wednesday in the afternoon, and sets 
out for Lewes every Thursday morning by eight o'clock, 
and brings Goods and Passengers to Lewes, li'letching, 
Chayley, Newick and all places adjacent at reasonable rates. 
Performed {ij God permit) by 


We may perceive by these early records that the real 
original way down to the Sussex coast was by the 
Croydon, Godstone, East Grinstead and Lewes route, 
and that its outlet must have been Newhaven, which, 
despite its name, is so very ancient a place, and was a 
port and harbour when Brighthelmstone was but a 

That is the only glimpse we get of the widow Smith 
and her Maggon ; but the " George Inn, in the 


Borough," that sh3 " got into," is still in the Borough 
High Street. It is a fine and flourishing remnant of 
an ancient galleried hostelry of the time of Chaucer, 
and it is characteristic of the continuity of English 
social, as well as political history that, although 
waggons and coaches no longer come to or set out 
from the " George," its spacious yard is now a railway 
receiving-office for goods, where the railway vans, 
those descendants of the stage-waggon, thunderously 
come and go all day. 

It will be observed that the traffic in those days 
went to and from Southwark, which was then the 
great business centre for the carriers. Not yet was 
the Brighton road measured from Westminster Bridge, 
for the adequate reason that there was no bridge at 
Westminster until 1749 : only the ferry from the 
Horseferry Road to Lambeth. 

Widow Smith's waggon halted at Lewes, and it is 
not until ten years later than the date of her advertise- 
ment that we hear of the Brighthelmstone conveyance. 
The first was that announced by the pioneer, James 
Batchelor, in The Sussex Weekly AdvcHiser, May 12th, 

DAY STAGE COACH or CHAISE sets out from the 
Talbot Inn, in the Borough, on Saturday next, the lOtli 

When likewise the Brighthelmstone Stage begins. 
Performed {if God permit) by 


The " Talbot " inn, which stood on the site of the 
ancient " Tabard," of Chaucerian renown, disappeared 
from the Borough High Street in 1870. What its 
picturesque yard was like in 1815, with the waggons 
of the Sussex carriers, let the illustration tell. 

Let us halt awhile, to admire the courage of those 
coaching and waggoning pioneers who, in the days 
before " the sea-side " had been invented, and few 
people travelled, dared the awful roads for what must 


then have been a preearious business. Sussex roads 
in especial had a most unenviable name for miriness, 
and wheeled traffic was so difficult that for many years 
after this period the farmers and others continued to 
take their womenkind about in the pillion fashion here 
caricatured by Henry Bunbury. 

Horace Walpole. indeed, travelling in Sussex in 
1749, visiting Arundel and Cowdray, acquired a too 
intimate acquaintance with their phenomenal depth 
of mud and ruts, inasmuch as he — finicking little 
gentleman — was compelled to alight precipitately from 
his overturned chaise, and to foot it like any common 
fellow. One quite pities his daintiness in the narration 
of his sorrows, picturesquely set forth by that accom- 
plished letter-writer arrived home to the safe seclusion 
of Strawberry Hill. He writes to George Montagu, 
and dates August 26th, 1749 : 

" Mr. Chute and I returned from our expedition 
miraculously well, considering all our distresses. If 
you love good roads, conveniences, good inns, plenty 
of postilions and horses, be so kind as never to go into 
Sussex. We thought ourselves in the northest part 
of England ; the whole county has a Saxon air, and 
the inhabitants are savage, as if King George the 
Second was the first monarch of the East Angles. 
Coaches grow there no more than balm and spices : 
we were forced to drop our post-chaise, that resembled 
nothing so much as harlequin's calash, which was 
occasionally a chaise or a baker's cart. We journeyed 
over alpine mountains " (Walpole, you will observe, 
was, equally with the evening journalist of these happy 
times, not unaccustomed to exaggerate) " drenched in 
clouds, and thought of harlequin again, when he was 
driving the chariot of the sun through the morning 
clouds, and was so glad to hear the aqua vitce man crying 
a dram. ... I have set up my staff, and finished my 
pilgrimages for this year. Sussex is a great damper of 

Thus he prattles on, delightfully describing the 
peculiarities of the several places he visited with this 


Mr, Chute, " whom," says he, "I have created 
Strawberry King-at-Arms." One wonders what that 
mute, inglorious Chute thought of it all ; if he was as 
disgusted with Sussex sloughs and moist unpleasant 
" mountains " as his garrulous companion. Chute 
suffered in silence, for the sight of pen, ink, and paper 
did not induce in him a fury of composition ; and so 
we shall never know what he endured. 

Then the pedantic Doctor John Burton, who 
journeyed into Sussex in 1751, had no less unfortunate 
acquaintance with these miry ways than our dilettante 
of Strawberry Hill. To those who have small Latin 
and less Greek, this traveller's tale must ever remain 
a sealed book ; for it is in those languages that he 
records his views upon ways and means, and men and 
manners, in Sussex. As thus, for example : 

" I fell immediately upon all that was most bad, 
upon a land desolate and muddy, whether inhabited 
by men or beasts a stranger could not easily distinguish, 
and upon roads which were, to explain concisely what 
is most abominable, Sussexian. No one would 
imagine them to be intended for the people and the 
public, but rather the byways of individuals, or, more 
truly, the tracks of cattle-drivers ; for everywhere the 
usual footmarks of oxen appeared, and we too, who 
were on horseback, going along zigzag, almost like 
oxen at plough, ad\anced as if we were turning back, 
while we followed out all the twists of the roads. 
. . . My friend, I will set before you a kind of problem 
in the manner of Aristotle : — Why comes it that the 
oxen, the swine, the women, and all other animals (!) 
are so long-legged in Sussex ? Can it be from the 
difficulty of pulling the feet out of so much mud 
by the strength of the ankle, so that the muscles 
become stretched, as it were, and the bones 
lengthened ? " 

A doleful tale. Presently he arrives at the conclusion 
that the peasantry " do not concern themselves with 
literature or philosophy, for they consider the pursuit 
of such things to be only idling," which is not so very 


remarkable a trait, after all, in the character of an 
agricultural people. 

Our author eventually, notwithstanding the terrible 
roads, arrived at Brighthelmstone, by way of Lewes, 
" just as day was fading." It was, so he says, " a 
village on the sea-coast, lying in a valley gradually 
sloping, and yet deep. It is not, indeed, contemptible 
as to size, for it is throngetl with peo})le, though the 
inhabitants are mostly very needy and wretched in 
their mode of living, occupied in the employment of 
fishing, robust in their bodies, laborious, and skilled 
in all nautical crafts, and, as it is said, terrible cheats 
of the custom-house officers." As who, indeed, is not, 
allowing the opportunity ? 

Batchelor, the pioneer of Brighton coaching, 
continued his enterprise in 1757, and with the coming 
of spring, and the drying of the roads, his coaches, 
which had been laid up in the winter, after the usual 
custom of those times, were plying again. In May he 
advertised, " for the convenience of country gentlemen, 
etc.," his London, Lewes, and Brighthelmstone stage- 
coach, which performed the journey of fifty-eight miles 
in two days ; and exclusive persons, who preferred to 
travel alone, might have post-chaises of him. 

Brighthelmstone had in the meanwhile sprung into 
notice. The health-giving qualities of its sea air, and 
the then " strange new eccentricity " of sea-bathing, 
advocated from 1750 by Dr. Richard Russell, had 
already given it something of a vogue among wealthy 
invalids, and the growing traffic was worth competing 
for. Competitors therefore sprang up to share 
Batchelor's busines<^. Most of them merely added 
stage-coaches like his, but in May, 1762, a certain 
" J. Tubb," in j^artnership with " S. Brawne," started 
a very superior conveyance, going from London one 
day and returning from Brighthelmstone the next. 
This was the : 

MACHINE (by L'ckfield), hung on steel springs, very neat 


From a carualure by Henry liunbury. 


and commodious, to carry Four Passengers, sets out from 
the Golden Cross Inn, Charing Cross, on Mondaj^ the 7th of 
June, at six o'clock in the morning, and will continue 
Monday's, Wednesday's, and Friday's to the White Hart, 
at Lewes, and the Castle, at Brightelmstone, where regular 
Books are kept for entering passenger's and parcels ; will 
return to London Tuesday's, Thursday's, and Saturday's 
Each Inside Passenger to Lewes, Thirteen Shillings ; to 
Brighthelmstone, Sixteen ; to be allowed Fourteen Pound 
Weight for Luggage, all above to pay One Penny per 
Pound ; half the fare to be paid at Booking, the other at 
entering the machine. Children in Lap and Outside 
Passengers to pay half-price. 

„ P J I ' J- TUBB. 

Performed by g rRAWNE. 

Batchelor saw with dismay this coach performing 
the whole journey in one day, while his took two. 
But he determined to be as good a man as his opponent, 
if not even a better, and started the next week, at 
identical fares, " a new large Flying Chariot, with a 
Box and four horses (by Chailey) to carry two 
Passengers only, except three should desire to go 
together." The better to crush the presumptuous 
Tubb, he later on reduced his fares. Then ensued a 
diverting, if by no means edifying, war of advertise- 
ments ; for Tubb, unwilling to be outdone, inserted 
the following in The Lewes Journal, November, 1762 : 

the 1st of November instant, the LEWES and BRIGHT- 
HELMSTON FLYING MACHINE began going in one day, 
and continues twice a week during the Winter Season to 
Lewes only ; sets out from the White Hart, at Lewes, 
Mondays and Thursdays at Six o'clock in the Morning, 
and returns from the Golden Cross, at Charing Cross, 
Tuesdays and Saturdays, at the same hour. 

Performed by J. TUBB. 

N.B. — Gentlemen, Ladies, and others, are desired to look 
narrowly into the Meanness and Design of the other Flying 
Machine to Lewes and Brighthelmston, in lowering his 


prices, whether 'tis thro' conscience or an endeavour to 
suppress me. If the former is the case, think how you 
have been used for a great number of years, when he 
engrossed the whole to himself, and kept you two days upon 
the road, going fifty miles. If the latter, and he should be 
lucky enough to succeed in it, judge whether he wont 
return to his old prices, when you cannot help yourselves, 
and use you as formerly. As I have, then, been the remover 
of this obstacle, which you have all granted by your great 
encouragement to me hitherto, I, therefore, hope for the 
continuance of your favours, which will entirely frustrate 
the deep-laid schemes of my great opponent, and lay a 
lasting obligation on, — Your very humble Servant, 


To this replies Batchelor, possessed with an idea of 
vested interests pertaining to himself : 

WHEREAS, Mr. Tubb, by an Advertisement in this 
paper of Monday last, has thought fit to cast some invidious 
Reflections upon me, in respect of the lowering my Prices 
and being two days upon the Road, with other low insinua- 
tions, I beg leave to submit the following matters to the 
calm Consideration of the Gentlemen, Ladies, and other 
Passengers, of what Degree soever, who have been pleased 
to favour me, viz. : 

That our Family first set up the Stage Coach from 
London to Lewes, and have continued it for a long Series 
of Years, from Father to Son and other Branches of the 
same Race, and that even before the Turnpikes on the 
Lewes Road were erected they drove their Stage, in the 
Summer Season, in one day, and have continued to do ever 
since, and now in the Winter Season twice in the week. 
And it is likewise to be considered that many aged and 
infirm Persons, who did not chuse to rise early in the 
Morning, were very desirous to be two Days on the Road 
for their own Ease and Conveniency, therefore there was no 
obstacle to be removed. And as to lowering my pnces, let 
every one judge whether, when an old Servant of the 
Country perceives an Endeavour to suppress and supplant 
him in his Business, he is not well justified in taking all 
measures in his Power for his own Security, and even to 
oppose an unfair Adversary as far as he can. 'Tis, therefore, 


hoped that the descendants of your very ancient Servants 
will still meet with your farther Encouragement, and leave 
the Schemes of our little Opponent to their proper Deserts. — 
I am, Your old and present most obedient Servant, 

December 13, 1762. 

The rivals both kept to the road until the death of 
Batchelor, in 1766, when his business was sold to Tubb, 
w ho took into partnership a Mr. Davis. Together they 
started, in 1767, the first service of a daily coach in the 
" Lewes and Brighthelmstone Flys," each carrying 
four passengers, one to London and one to Brighton 
every day. 

Tubb and Davis had in 1770 one " machine " and 
one waggon on this road, fare by " machine " 14*. 
The machine ran daily to and from London, starting 
at five o'clock in the morning. The waggon was three 
days on the road. Another machine was also running, 
but with the coming of winter these machines per- 
formed only three double journeys each a week. 

In 1777 another stage- waggon was started by 
" Lashmar & Co." It loitered between the " King's 
Head," Southwark, and the " King's Head," Brighton, 
starting from London every Tuesday at the unearthly 
hour of 3 a.m., and reaching its destination on Thursday 

On May 31st, 1784, Tubb and Davis put a " light 
post-coach " on the road, running to Brighton one day 
returning to London the next, in addition to their 
already running " machine " and " post-coach." This 
new conveyance presumably made good time, four 
" insides " only being carried. 

Four years later, when Brighton's sun of splendour 
was rising, there were on the road between London 
and the sea three " machines," three light post-coaches, 
two coaches, and two stage- waggons. Tubb now 
disai)pears, and his firm becomes Davis & Co. Other 
proprietors were Ibbcrson & Co., Bradford & Co., and 
Mr. Wesson. 


On May Ist, 1791, the (irst Brighton Mail coacli 
was established. It was a two-horse affair, running 
by Lewes and East Grinstead, and taking twelve hours 
to perform the journey. It was not well supported 
by the public, and as the Post OfHce would not pay 
the contraetors a higher mileage, it was at some 
uncertain j)eriod withdrawn. 

About 1796 eoaeh offices were opened in Brigliton 
for the sole despatch of coaching t)usiness, the time 
having passed away for the old custom of starting 
from inns. Now, too, were different tales to tell of 
these roads, after the Pavilion had been set in course 
of building. Royalty and the Court could not endure 
to travel upon such evil tracks as had hitherto been 
the lot of travellers to Brighthelmstone. Presently, 
instead of a dearth of roads and a plethora of ruts, 
there became a choice of good highways and a plenty 
of travellers upon them. 

Numerous coaches ran to meet the demands of the 
travelling public, and these continually increased in 
number and improved in speed. About this time 
first appear the firms of Henwood, Crossweller, 
Cuddington, Pockney & Harding, whose office was at 
No. 44, East Street ; and Boulton, Tilt, Hicks, Baul- 
comb & Co., at No. 1, North Street. The most 
remarkable thing, to my mind, about those companies 
is their long-winded names. In addition to the old 
service, there ran a " night post-coach " on alternate 
nights, starting at 10 p.m. in the season. One then 
went to or from London generally in " about " eleven 
hours, if all went well. If you could afford only a ride 
in the stage- waggon, why then you were carried the 
distance by the accelerated (!) waggons of this line in 
two days and one night. 



Erredge, the historian of Brighton, tells something 
of the social side of Brighton Road coaching at the 
beginning of the nineteenth century. Social indeed, 
as you shall see : 

" In 1801 two pair-horse coaches ran between 
London and Brighton on alternate days, one up, the 
other down, driven by INIessrs. Crossweller and Hine. 
The progress of these coaches was amusing. The one 
from London left the Blossoms Inn, Lawrence Lane, 
at 7 a.m., the passengers breaking their fast at the 
Cock, Sutton, at 9. The next stoppage for the purpose 
of refreshment was at the Tangier, Banstead Downs — 
a rural little spot, famous for its elderberry wine, 
which used to be brought from the cottage ' roking 
hot,' and on a cold wintry morning few refused to 
partake of it. George IV. invariably stopped here and 
took a glass from the hand of Miss Jeal as he sat in 
his carriage. The important business of luncheon took 
place at Reigate, where sufficient time was allowed the 
passengers to view the Baron's Cave, where, it is said, 
the barons assembled the night previous to their 
meeting King John at Runymeade. The grand halt 
for dinner was made at Staplefield Common, celebrated 
for its famous black cherry-trees, under the branches 
of which, when the fruit was ripe, the coaches were 
allowed to draw uj^ and the jiassengers to partake of 
its tempting produce. The hostess of the hostelry 
here was famed for her rabbit-puddings, which, hot, 
were always waiting the arrival of the coach, and to 
which the travellers ne^'er failed to do such ample 
justice, that ordinarily they found it quite impossible 
to leave at the hour appointed ; so grogs, pipes, and 
ale were ordered in, and, to use the language of the 
fraternity, ' not a wheel wagged ' for two hours. 
Handcross was a little resting-place, celebrated for 
its ' neat ' liquors, the landlord of the inn standing, 
bottle in hand, at the door. He and several other 
bonifaccs at Friars' Oak, etc., had the reputation of 


being on pretty good terms with the smugglers who 
carried on their operations with such audacity along 
the Sussex coast. 

" After walking up Clayton Hill, a cup of tea was 
sometimes found to be necessary at Patcham, after 
which Brighton was safely reached at 7 p.m. It must 
be understood that it was the custom for the passengers 
to walk up all the hills, and even sometimes in heavy 
weather to give a push behind to assist the jaded 

But it was not always so ideal or so idyllic. That 
there were discomforts and accidents is evident from 
the wordy warfare of advertisements that followed 
U[)on the starting of the Royal Brighton Four Horse 
Company in 1802. As a competitor with older firms, 
it seems to have aroused much jealousy and slander, 
if we may believe the following contemporary 
advertisement : 

THE ROYAL BRIGHTON Four Horse Coach Company 
beg leave to return their sincere thanks to their Friends and 
the Public in general for the very liberal support they have 
experienced since the starting of their Coaches, and assure 
them it will always be their greatest study to have their 
Coaches safe, with good Horses and sober careful Coachmen. 

They likewise wish to rectify a report in circulation of 
their Coach having been overturned on Monday last, by 
which a gentleman's leg was broken, «fee., no such thing 
having ever happened to either of their Coaches. The Fact 
is it was one of the Blue Coaches instead of the Royal 
New Coach. 

*^i* As several mistakes have happened, of their friends 
being booked at other Coach oflices, they are requested to 
book themselves at the ROYAL NEW COACH OFFICE, 
CATHERINE'S HEAD, 47, East Street. 

The coaching business grew rapidly, and in an 
advertisement offering for sale a portion of the coaching 
business at No. 1, North Street, it was stated that the 
annual returns of this firm were more than £12,000 
per annum, yielding from Christmas, 1791', to 


Christmas, 1808, se\'eii and a half per cent, on the 
capital invested, besides purchasing the interest of 
four of the partners in the concern In this last year 
two new businesses were started, those of Waldegra\'e 
& Co., and Pattenden & Co. Fares now ruled high — 
23*. inside ; 13*. outside. 

The year 1809 marked the beginning of a new and 
strenuous coaching era on this road. Then Crossweller 
& Co. commenced to run their " morning and night " 
coaches, and William " Miller " Bradford formed his 
company. This was an association of twelve members, 
contributing £100 each, for the purpose of establishing 
a " double " coach — that is to say, one up and one 
down, each day. The idea was to " lick creation " 
on the Brighton Road by accelerating the speed, and 
to this end they acquired some forty-five horses then 
sold out of the Inniskilling Dragoons, at that time 
stationed at Brighton. On May Day, 1810, the 
Brighton Mail was re-established. These " Royal 
Night Mail Coaches " as they were grandiloquently 
announced, were started by arrangement with the 
Postmaster-General. The speed, although much 
improved, was not yet so very great, eight hours being 
occupied on the way, although these coaches went by 
what was then the new cut via Croydon. Like the 
Dover, Hastings, and Portsmouth mails, the Brighton 
Mail was two-horsed. It ran to and from the 
" Blossoms " Inn, Lawrence Lane, Cheapside, and 
never attained a better performance than 7 hours 
20 minutes, a speed of 7^ miles an hour. It had, 
however, this distinction, if it may so be called : it 
was the slowest mail in the kingdom. 

It was on June 25th, 1810, that an accident befell 
Waldegrav e's " Accommodation " coach on its up 
journey. Near Brixton Causeway its hind wheels 
collapsed, owing to the heavy weight of the loaded 
vehicle. By one of those strange chances when truth 
appears stranger than fiction, there chanced to be a 
farmer's waggon jmssing the coach at the instant of 
its overturning. Into it were shot the " outsiders," 


fortunate in this comparative!}' easy fall. Still, shocks 
and bruises were not few, and one gentleman had his 
thigh broken. 

By June, 1811, traffic had so increased that there 
were then no fewer than twenty-eight coaches running 
between Brighton and London. On February 5th in 
the following year occurred the only great road robbery 
known on this road. This was the theft from the 
" Blue " coach of a package of bank-notes representing 
a sum of between three and four thousand pounds 
sterling. Crosswellers were proprietors of the coach, 
and from them Messrs. Brown, Lashmar & West, of 
the Brighton Union Bank, had hired a box beneath 
the seat for the conveyance of remittances to and 
from London. On this day the Bank's London 
correspondents placed these notes in the box for 
transmission to London, but on arrival the box was 
found to have been broken open and the notes all 
stolen. It would seem that a carefully planned 
conspiracy had been entered into by several persons, 
who must have had a thorough knowledge of the 
means by which the Union Bank sent and received 
money to and from the metropolis. On this morning 
six persons were booked for inside places. Of this 
number two only made an appearance — a gentleman 
and a lady. Two gentlemen were picked up as the 
coach proceeded. The lady was taken suddenly ill 
when Sutton was reached, and she and her husband 
were left at the inn there. When the coach arrived 
at Reigatc the two remaining passengers went to inquire 
for a friend. Returning shortly, they told the coach- 
man that the friend whom they had supposed to be 
at Brighton had returned to town, then-fore it was of 
no use proceeding further. 

Thus the coachman and guard had the remainder 
of the journey to themselves, while the cash-box, as 
was discovered at the journey's end, was minus its 
cash. A reward of £300 was innnediately offered for 
information that would lead to recovery of the notes. 
This was subsequently altered to an offer of 100 guineas 


for information of the offender, in addition to £300 
upon recovery of the total amount, or " ten per cent, 
upon the amount of so much thereof as shall be 
recovered." No reward money was ever paid, for 
the notes were never recovered, and the thieves 
escaped with their booty. 

In 1813 the " Defiance " was started, to run to and 
from Brighton and London in the daytime, each way 
six hours. This produced the rival " Eclipse," which 
belied the suggestion of its name and did not eclipse, 
but only equalled, the performance of its model. But 
competition had now grown very severe, and fares in 
consequence were reduced to — inside, ten shillings ; 
outside, five shillings. Indeed, in 1816, a number of 
Jews started a coach to run from London to Brighton 
in six hours ; or, failing to keep time, to forfeit all 
fares. Needless to say, under such Hebrew manage- 
ment, and with that liability, it was punctuality 
itself; but Nemesis awaited it, in the shape of an 
information laid for furious driving. 

The Mail, meanwhile, maintained its ancient pace 
of a little over six miles an hour — a dignified, no-hurry, 
governmental rate of progression. There was, in fact, 
no need for the Brighton Mail to make speed, for the 
road from the General Post OfTice is only fifty-three 
miles in length, and all the night and the early morning, 
from eight o'clock until five or six o'clock a.m., lay 
before it. 

We come now to the " Era of the Amateur," who not 
only flourished pre-eminently on the Brighton Road, 
but may be said to have originated on it. The coaching 
amateur and the nineteenth century came into existence 
almost contemporaneously. Very soon after 1800 it 
became " the thing " to drive a coach, and shortly 
after this became such a definite ambition, there arose 


that contradiction in terms, that horsey paradox, the 
Amateur Professional, generally a sporting gentleman 
brought to utter ruin by Corinthian gambols, and 
taking to the one trade on earth at which he could 
earn a wage. That is why the Golden Age of coaching 
won on the Brighton Road a refinement it only aped 

It is curious to see how coaching has always been, 
even in its serious days, before steam was thought of, 
the chosen amusement of wealthy and aristocratic 
whips. Of those who affected the Brighton Road may 
be mentioned the Marquis of Worcester, who drove 
the " Duke of Beaufort," Sir St. Vincent Cotton of 
the " Age," and the Hon. Fred Jerningham, who drove 
the Day Mail. The " Age," too, had been driven by 
Mr. Stevenson, a gentleman and a graduate of 
Cambridge, whose " passion for the bench," as 
" Nimrod " says, superseded all other worldly 
ambitions. He became a coachman by profession, 
and a good professional he made ; but he had not 
forgotten his education and early training, and he was, 
as a whip, singularly refined and courteous. He 
caused, at a certain change of horses on the road, a 
silver sandwich-box to be handed round to the 
passengers by his servant, with an offer of a glass of 
sherry, should any desire one. Another gentleman, 
" connected with the first famihes in Wales," whose 
father long represented his native county in Parliament, 
horsed and drove one side of this ground with Mr. 

This was " Sackie," Sackville Frederick Gwynne, of 
Carmarthenshire, who quarrelled with his relatives 
and took to the road ; became part proprietor of the 
" Age," broke off from Stevenson, and eventually 
lived and died at Liverpool as a cabdriver. He drove 
a cab till 1874, when he died, aged seventy-three. 

Harry Stevenson's connection with the Brighton 
Road began in 1827, when, as a young man fresh from 
Cambridge, he brought with him such a social 
atmosphere and such full-fledged expertness in driving 


a coach that Cripps, a coachmaster of Brighton and 
proprietor of the " Coronet," not only was overjoyed 
to have him on the box, but went so far as to paint 
his name on the coach as one of the licensees, for 
which false declaration Cripps was fined in November, 

The parentage and circumstances of Harry Stevenson 
are alike mysterious. We are told that he " went the 
pace," and was already penniless at twenty-two years 
of age, about the time of his advent upon the Brighton 
Road. In 1828 his famous "Age" was put on the 
road, built for him by Aldebert, the foremost coach- 
builder of the period, and appointed in every way 
with unexampled luxury. The gold- and silver- 
embroidered horse-cloths of the " Age " are very 
properly preserved in the Brighton Museum. 
Stexenson's career was short, for he died in February, 

Coaching authorities give the palm for artistry to 
whips of other roads : they considered the excellence 
of this as fatal to the production of those qualities 
that went to make an historic name. This road had 
become " perhajis the most nearly perfect, and 
certainly the most fashionable, of all." 

With the introduction of this sporting and 
irresponsible element, racing between rival coaches — 
and not the mere conveying of passengers — became 
the real interest of the coachmen, and proprietors 
were obliged to issue notices to assure the timid that 
this form of rivalry would be discouraged. A slow 
coach, the " Life Preserver," was even put on the road 
to win the support of old ladies and the timid, who, as 
the record of accidents tells us, did well to be timorous. 
But accidents would happen to fast and slow alike. 
The " Coburg " was upset at Cuckfield in August, 1819. 
Six of the passengers were so much injured that they 
could not proceed, and one died the following day 
at the " King's Head." The " Coburg " was an 
old-fashioned coach, heavy, clumsy, and slow, 
carrying six passengers inside and twelve outside. 


This type gave place to coaches of Hghter build 
about 1823. 

In 1826 seventeen coaches ran to Brighton from 
London every morning, afternoon, or evening. They 
had all of them the most high-sounding of names, 
calculated to impress the mind either with a sense of 
swiftness, or to awe the understanding with visions 
of aristocratic and court-like grandeur. As for the 
times they individually made, and for the inns from 
which they started, you who are insatiable of dry 
bones of fact may go to the Library of the British 
Museum and find your Cary (without an " e ") and 
do your gnawing of them. That they started at all 
manner of hours, even the most uncanny, you must 
rest assured ; and that they took off from the (to 
ourselves) most impossible and romantic-sounding of 
inns, may be granted, when such examples as the 
strangely incongruous " George and Blue Boar," the 
Herrick-like " Blossoms " Inn, and the idyllic-seeming 
" Flower-pot " are mentioned. 

Thev were, those seventeen coaches, the " Royal 
Mail,"' the " Coronet," " Magnet." " Comet," " Royal 
Sussex," "Sovereign," "Alert," "Dart," "Union," 
"Regent," "Times," "Duke of York." "Royal 
George," " True Blue," " Patriot," " Post," and the 
" Summer Coach," so called, and they nearly all 
started from the City and Holborn, calling at West 
End booking-offices on their several waj's. Most of 
the old inns from which they set out are pulled down, 
and the memory of them has faded. 

The " Golden Cross " at Charing Cross, from whose 
doors started the " Comet " and the " Regent " in 
this year of grace 1826, and at which the " Times " 
called on its way from Holborn, has been wholly 
remodelled ; the " White Horse," Fetter Lane, whence 
the " Duke of York " bowled away, has been 
demolished ; the " Old Bell and Crown " Inn, Holborn, 
where the " Alert," the " Union," and the " Times " 
drew up daily in the old-fashioned galleried courtyard, 
is swept away. Were Viator to return to-morrow, he 


would surely Avant to return to Hades, or Paradise, 
whercN er he may be, at ouce. Around him would be, 
to his senses, an astonishing whirl and noise of traffic, 
despite the wood-paving that has superseded macadam, 
which itself displaced the granite setts he knew. 
Many strange and horrid portents he would note, and 
Holborn would be to him as an unknown street in a 
strange town. 

Than 1826 the informative Cary goes no further, 
and his " Itinerary," excellent though it be, and 
invaluable to those who would know aught of the 
coaches that plied in the years when it was published, 
gives no particulars of the many " butterfly " coaches 
and amateur drags that cut in upon the regular 
coaches during the rush and scour of the season. 

In 1821 it was computed that over forty coaches 
ran to and from London and Brighton daily ; in 
September, 1822, there were thirty-nine. In 1828 
it was calculated that the sixteen permanent coaches 
then running, summer and winter, received between 
them a sum of £60,000 per annum, and the total sum 
expended in fares upon coaching on this road was 
taken as amounting to £100,000 per annum. That 
leaves the very respectable amoimt of £40.000 for the 
season's takings of the " butterflies." 

An accident happened to the " Alert " on October 
9th, 1829, when the coach was taking up passengers 
at Brighton. The horses ran away, and dashed the 
coach and themselves into an area sixteen feet deep. 
The coach was battered almost to pieces, and one 
lady was seriously injured. The horses escaped 
unhurt. In 1832, August 25th, the Brighton Mail was 
upset near Reigate, the coachman being killed. 

This was the era of those early motor-cars, the steam- 
carriages, which, in spite of their clumsy construction 
and appalling ugliness, arrived very nearly to a 
commercial success. Many inventors were engaged 
from 1823 to 1838 upon this subject. Walter Hancock, 
in particular, began in 1824, and in 1828 proposed a 
service of his " land-steamers " between London and 


Brighton, but did not actually appear upon this road 
with his " Infant " until November, 1832. The 
contrivance performed the double journey with some 
diHiculty and in slower time than the coaches ; but 
Hancock on that eventful day confidently declared 
that he was perfecting a newer machine by which he 
expected to run down in three and a half liours. He 
never achieved so much, but in October, 1833, his 
" Autopsy," which had been successfully running as an 
omnibus bttween Paddington and Stratford, went 
from the works at Stratford to Brighton in eight and 
a half hours, of which three hours were taken up by a 
halt on the road. 

No artist has preserved a view of this event for us, 
but a print may still be met with depicting the start 
of Sir Charles Dance's steam-carriage from Wellington 
Street, Strand, for Brighton on some eventful morning 
of that same year. A prison-van is, by comparison 
with this fearsome object, a thing of beauty ; but in 
the picture you will observe enthusiasm on foot and on 
horseback, and even four-legged, in the person of the 
inevitable dog. In the distance the discerning may 
observe the old toll-house on Waterloo Bridge, and the 
gaunt shape of the Shot Tower, 

By 1839 the coaching business had in Brighton 
become concentrated in Castle Square, six of the 
seven principal offices being situated there. Five 
London coaches ran from the Blue Office (Strevens 
& Co.), five from the Red Office (Mr. Goodman's), four 
from the " Spread Eagle " (Chaplin & Crunden's), three 
from the Age (T. W. Capps & Co.), two from Hine's, East 
Street ; two from Snow's (Capps & Chaplin), and two 
from the " Globe " (Mr. Vaughan's). 

To state the number of visitors to Brighton on a 
certain day will give an idea of how well this road 
was used during the decade that preceded the coming 
of steam. On Friday, October 25th, 1833, upwards 
of 480 persons travelled to Brighton by stage-coach. 
A comparison of this number with the hordes of 
\ isitors cast forth from the Brighton Railway Station 


to-day would render insignificant indeed that little 
crowd of 1833 ; but in those times, when the itch of 
excursionising was not so acute as now, that day's 
return was remarkable ; it was a day that fully 
justified the note made of it. Then, too, those few 
hundreds benefited the town more certainly than 
perhaps their number multiplied by ten does now. 
P'or the Brighton visitor of a hundred years ago, once 
set down in Castle Square, had to remain the night at 
least in Brighton ; for him there was no returning to 
London the same day. And so the Brighton folks 
had their wicked will of him for a while, and made 
something out of him ; while in these times the greater 
proportion of a day's excursionists find themselves 
either at home in London already, when evening hours 
are striking from Westminster Ben, or else waiting 
with what patience they may the collecting of tickets 
at the bleak and dismal penitentiary platforms of 
Grosvenor Road Station ; and, after all, Brighton is 
little or nothing advantaged by their visit. 

But though the tripper of the coaching era found 
it impracticable to have his morning in London, his 
day upon the King's Road, and his evening in town 
again, yet the pace at which the coaches went in the 
'30's was by no means despicable. Ten miles an hour 
now became slow and altogether behind the age. 

In 1833 the Marquis of Worcester, together with a 
Mr. Alexander, put three coaches on the road : an up 
and down " Quicksilver " and a single coach, the 
" Wonder." The " Quicksilver," named probably in 
allusion to its swiftness (it was timed for four hours 
and three-quarters), ran to and from what was then a 
favourite stopping-place, the " Elephant and Castle." 
But on July 15th of the same year an accident, by 
which several persons were very seriously injured, 
happened to the up " Quicksilver " when starting 
from Brighton. Snow, who was driving, could not 
hold the team in, and they bolted away, and brought 
up violently against the railings by the New Steyne. 
Broken arms, fractured arms and ribs, and contusions 


were ])lenty. The " Quicksilver." chaiiicleon-like, 
changed colour after this mishap, was repainted and 
renamed, and reappeared as the " Criterion " ; for the 
old name carried with it too great a spice of danger 
for the timorous. 

On February 4th, 1831, the "Criterion," driven by 
Charles Harbour, outstripping the old performances 
(»f the " Vivid," and beating the previous wonderfully 
quick journey of the " Red Rover," carried down 
King William's Speech on the opening of Parliament 
in 3 hours and 40 minutes, a coach record that has not 
been surpassed, nor quite equalled, on this road, not 
even by Selby on his great drive of July 13th, 1888, 
his times being out and in respectively, 3 hours 56 
minutes, and 3 hours 54 minutes. Then again, on 
another road, on May Day, 1830, the " Independent 
Tally-ho," running from London to Birmingham, 
covered those 109 miles in 7 hours 39 minutes, a better 
record than Selby's London to Brighton and back 
drive by eleven minutes, with an additional mile to 
the course. Another coach, the " Original Tally-ho," 
did the same distance in 7 hours 50 minutes. The 
" Criterion " fared ill under its new name, and gained 
an unenviable notoriety on June 7th, 1834, being 
overturned in a collision with a dray in the Borough. 
Many of the passengers were injured ; Sir William 
Cosway, who was climbing over the roof when the 
collision occurred, was killed. 

In 1839, the coaching era, full-blown even to decay, 
began to pewk and wither before the coming of steam, 
long heralded and now but too sure. The tale of 
coaches now decreased to twenty-three ; fares, which 
had fallen in the cut-throat competition of coach 
proprietors with their fellows in previous years to 105. 
inside, 5*. outside for the single journey, now rose to 
21s. and 12*. Every man that horsed a coach, seeing 
now was the shearing time for the public, ere the now 
building railway was opened, strove to make as much as 
possible ere he closed his yards, sold his stock, broke his 
coach up for firewood, and took himself off the road. 


Sentiment hung round the expiring age of coaehing, 
and has cast a halo on old-time ways of travelling, 
so that we often fail to note the disadvantages and 
discomforts endured in those days ; hut, amid regrets 
which were often simply maudlin, occur now and 
again witticisms true and tersely epigrammatic, as 
thus : 

For the neat wayside inn aad a dish of cold meat 
You've a gorgeous saloon, but there's nothing to eat ; 

and a contributor to the Sporting Magazine observes, 
very happily, that " even in a ' case ' in a coach, it's 
' there you are ' ; whereas in a railway carriage it's 
' where are you ? ' " in case of an accident. 

On September 21st, 1841, the Brighton Railway 
was opened throughout, from London to Brighton, 
and with that event the coaching era for this road 
virtually died. Professional coach proprietors who 
wished to retain the competencies they had accumulated 
were well advised to shun all competition with steam, 
and others had been wise enough to cut their losses ; 
.for the Road for the next sixty years was to become a 
discarded institution and the Rail was entering into a 
long and undisputed possession of the carrying trade. 

The Brighton Mail, however — or mails, for Chaplin 
had started a Day Mail in 1838 — continued a few 
months longer. The Day Mail ceased in October, 1841, 
but the Night Mail held the road until March, 1842. 


Between 1841, when the railway was opened all the 
way from London, and 1866, during a period of twenty- 
five years, coaching, if not dead, at least showed but 
few and intermittent signs of life. The " Age," 
which then was owned by Mr. F. W. Capps, was the 
last coach to run regularly on the direct road to and 
from London. The " Victoria," however, was on 


the road, via Dorking and Horsham, until November 
8th, 1845. 

The " Age " had been one of the best equipped and 
driven of all the smart drags in that period when 
aristoeratic amateur dragsmen frequented this road, 
when the Marquis of Worcester drove the " Beaufort," 
and when the Hon. Fred Jerningham, a son of the 
Earl of Stafford, a whip of consummate skill, drove 
the day-mail ; a time when the " Age " itself was 
driven by that sportsman of gambling memory, Sir 
St. Vincent Cotton, and by that Mr. Stevenson who 
was its founder, mentioned more particularly on 
page 37. When Mr. Capps became proprietor, he had 
as coachman several distinguished men. For twelve 
years, for instance, Robert Brackenbury drove the 
" Age " for the nominal pay of twelve shillings per 
week, enough to keep him in whips. It was thus 
supremely fitting that it should also have been the 
last to survive. 

In later years, about 1852, a revived " Age," owned 
and driven by the Duke of Beaufort and George Clark, 
the " Old " Clark of coaching acquaintance, was on 
the road to London, via Dorking and Kingston, in the 
summer months. It was discontinued in 1862. A 
picture of this coach crossing Ham Common en route 
for Brighton was painted in 1852 and engraved. A 
reproduction of it is shown here. 

From 1862 to 1866 the rattle of the bars and the 
sound of the guard's yard of tin were silent on every 
route to Brighton ; but in the latter year of horsey 
memory and the coaching revival, a number of aris- 
tocratic and wealthy amateurs of the whip, among 
whom were representatives of the best coaching talent 
of the day, subscribed a capital, in shares of £10, and 
a little yellow coach, the "Old Times," was put on 
the highway. Among the promoters of the venture 
were Captain Haworth, the Duke of Beaufort, Lord 
H. Thynne, Mr. Chandos Pole, Mr. " Cherry " Angell, 
Colonel Armytage, Captain Lawrie, and Mr. Fitzgerald. 
The experiment proved unsuccessful, but in the 


following season, commencing in April, 1867, when 
the goodwill and a large portion ©f the stock had been 
purchased from the original subscribers, by the Duke 
of Beaufort, Mr. E. S. Chandos Pole, and Mr. Angell, 
the coach was doubled, and two new coaches built 
by Holland & Holland. 

The Duke of Beaufort was chief among the sportsmen 
who horsed the coaches during this season. Mr. 
Chandos Pole, at the close of the summer season, 
determined to carry on by himself, throughout the 
winter, a service of one coach. This he did, and, 
aided by Mr. Pole-Gell, doubled it the next summer. 

The following year, 1869, the coach had so prosperous 
a season that it showed never a clean bill, i.e., never 
ran empty, all the summer, either way. The partners 
this year were the Earl of Londesborough, Mr. Pole- 
Cell, Colonel Stracey Clitherow, Mr. Chandos Pole, 
and Mr. G. Meek. 

From this season coaching became extremely popular 
on the Brighton Road, Mr. Chandos Pole running 
his coach until 1872. In the following year an 
American amateur, Mr. Tiffany, kept up the tradition 
with two coaches. Late in the season of 1874 Captain 
Haworth put in an appearance. 

In 1875 the " Age " was put upon the road by 
Mr. Stewart Freeman, and ran in the season up to and 
including 1880, in which year it was doubled. Captain 
Blyth had the " Defiance " on the road to Brighton 
this year by the circuitous route of Tunbridge Wells. 
In 1881 Mr. Freeman's coach was absent from the road, 
but Edwin Fownes put the " Age " on, late in the 
season. In the following year Mr. Freeman's coach 
ran, doubled again, and single in 1883. It was again 
absent in 1884-5-6, in which last year it ran to 
Windsor ; but it reappeared on the Brighton Road 
in 1887 as the " Comet," and in the winter of that year 
was continued by Captain Beckett, who had Selby 
and Fownes as whips. In 1888 Mr. Freeman ran in 
partnership with Colonel Stracey- Clitherow, Lord 
Wiltshire, and Mr. Hugh M'Calmont, and in 1889 



became partner in an undertaking to run the coach 
doubled. The two " Comets " therefore served the 
road in this season supported by two additional 
subscribers, the Honourable H. Sandys and Mr. 
Randolph Wemyss. 

In 1888 the " Old Times," forsaking the Oatlands 
Park drive, had appeared on the Brighton Road as 
a riv'al to the " Comet," and continued throughout 
the winter months, until Selby met his death in that 

The " Comet " ran single in the winter season 
of 1889-90, and in April was again doubled for the 
simimer, running single in 1891-2-3, when Mr. F'reeman 
relinquished it. 

Mention has already been made of the " Old Times," 
which made such a fleeting appearance on this road ; 
but justice was not done to it, or to Selby, in that 
incidental allusion. They require a niche to them- 
selves in the history of the revival — a niche to which 
shall be appended this poetic excerpt : 

Here's the " Old Times," it's one of the best, 

Which no coaching man will deny. 

Fifty miles down the road with a jolly good load. 

Between London and Brighton each day. 

Beckett, M'Adam, and Dickey, the driver, are there. 

Of old Jim's presence every one is aware. 

They are all nailing good sorts. 

And go in for all sports. 

So we'll all go a-coaching to-day. 

It is poetry whose like we do not often meet. 
Tennyson himself never attempted to capture such 
heights of rhyme. He could, and did, rhyme " poet " 
with " know it," but he never drove such a Cockney 
team as " deny " and " to-dy " to water at the 
Pierian springs. 



" Carriages without horses shall go," is the 
" prophecy " attributed to that mythical fifteenth 
century pythoness, Mother Shipton ; really the ex 
post facto forgery of Charles Hindley, the second-hand 
bookseller, in 1862. It should not be difficult, on such 
terms, to earn the reputation of a seer. 

Between 1823 and 1838, ths era of the steam- 
carriages, that prognostication had already been 
fulfilled ; and again, in another sense, with the intro- 
duction of railways. But it was not until the close of 
1896 that the real horseless era began to dawn. 
Railways, extravagantly discriminative tolls, and 
restrictions upon weight and speed killed the steam- 
carriages, and for more than fifty years the highways 
knew no other mechanical locomotion than that of 
the familiar traction-engines, restricted to three miles 
an hour and preceded by a man with a red flag. It 
is true that a few hardy inventors continued to waste 
their time and money on devising new forms of steam- 
carriages, and were only fined for their pains when 
they were rash enough to venture on the public roads, 
as when Bateman, of Greenwich, invented a steam- 
tricycle, and Sir Thomas Parky n, Bart., was fined 
at Greenwich Police Court, April 8th, 1881, for 
riding it. 

That incident appears to have finally quenched 
the ardour of inventive genius in this country ; but 
a new locomotive force already existing unsuspected 
was about this period being experimented with on 
the Continent by one Gottlieb Daimler, whose name — 
generally mispronounced — is now sufficientlj'^ familiar 
to all who know anything of motor-cars. 

Daimler was at that time connected with the Otto 
Gas Engine Works in Germany, where the adaptive 
Germans were exploiting the gas-engine principle 
invented by Crossley many years before. 

In 1886 Daimler produced his motor-bicycle, and 
by 1891 his motor engine was adapted by Panhard 


and Iie\'assor to other types of vehicles. The French 
were thus the first to perceive the great possibilities 
of it, and by 1894 the motor-cars already in use in 
France were so numerous that the first sporting event 
in the history of them — the 760 miles' race from Paris 
to Bordeaux and back — was run. 

The following year Mr. Evelyn Ellis brought over 
the first motor-car to reach England, a 4 h.-p. Panhard, 
and a little later, Sir David Salomons, of Tunbridge 
Wells, imported a Peugeot. In that town, October 
15th, 1895, he held the first show of cars — four or five 
at most — in this country. Then began an agitation 
raised by a few enthusiasts for the remo\'al of the 
existing restrictions upon road traffic. A deputation 
waited upon the Local Government Board, and the 
Light Locomotives Act of 1896 was passed in August, 
legalising mechanical traction up to a speed of fourteen 
miles an hour, the Act to come into operation on 
November 14th. 

For whatever reason, the Light Locomotives Act 
was passed so quietly, under the agis of the Local 
Government Board, as to almost wear the aspect of 
an organised secrecy, and the coming of what is now 
known as Motor-car Day was utterly unsuspected by 
the bulk of the public. It even caught the newspapers 
unprepared, until the week before. 

But the financiers and company-promoters had been 
busy. They at least fully realised the importance of 
the era about to dawn ; and the extravagant flotations 
of the Great Horseless Carriage Company and of many 
others long since bankrupt and forgotten, together 
with the phenomenal over-valuation of patents, very 
soon discredited the new movement. Never has there 
been a new industry so hardly used by company- 
promoting sharks as that of motor-cars. 

No inkling of subsequent financial disasters clouded 
Motor-car Day, and as at almost the last moment the 
Press had come to the conclusion that it was an occasion 
to be written up and enlarged upon, a very great 
public interest was aroused in the Motor-car Club's 


proposed celebration of the evejit by a great procession 
of the newly-enfranchised " light locomotives " from 
Whitehall to Brighton, on November 14th. 

The Motor-car Club is dead. It was not a club in 
the proper sense of the word, but an organisation 
promoted and financed by the company-promoters 
who were interested in advertising their schemes. 
The run to Brighton was itself intended as a huge 
advertisement, but the unprepared condition of many 
of the cars entered, together with the miserable 
weather prevailing on that day, resulted in turning 
the whole thing into ridicule. 

The newspapers had done their best to ad\crtise 
the event ; but no one anticipated the immense crowds 
that assembled at the starting-point, Whitehall Place, 
by nine o'clock on that wet and foggy morning. By 
half- past ten, the hour fixed for the start, there was 
a maddening chaos of hundreds of thousands of sight- 
seers such as no Lord Mayor's Show or Royal Procession 
had ever attracted. Everybody in the crowd wanted 
a front place, and those who got one, being both unable 
and unwilling to " parse away," were nearly scragged 
by the police, who on the Embankment set upon 
individuals like footballers on the ball ; while snap- 
shotters wasted plates on them from the secure 
altitudes of omnibuses or other vehicles. 

Those whose journalistic duties took them to see 
the start had to fight their way down from Charing 
Cross, up from Westminster, or along from the 
Embankment ; contesting inch by inch, and wondering 
if the starting-point would ever be gained. 

At length the Metropole hove in sight, but the 
motor-cars had yet to be found. To accomplish this 
feat it was necessary to hurl oneself into a surging 
tide of humanity, and surge with it. The tide carried 
the explorer away and eventually washed him ashore 
on the neck of a policeman. Rumour got around 
that an organised massacre of cab-horses was con- 
templated, and myriads of mounted police appeared 
and had their photographs taken from the tops of 


cabs and other envied ])ositions occupied by amateur 
photographers, who paid dearly to take pictures of 
the fog, which they could have done elsewhere for 

Time went on, the crowd grew bigger, the mud 
was churned into slush, and everybody was treading 
upon everyl)ody else. 

" Ain't this bloomin' fun, sir ? " asked the driver 
of a growler, his sides shaking with laughter, " Even 
my ole 'oss 'as bin larfin'." 

" Very intelligent horse," we said, thinking of 
Mr. Pickwick, and determining to ask some searching 
questions as to his antecedents. 

" Interleck's a great p'int, sir. Which 'ud you 
sooner be in : a runaway mortar-caw or a keb ? " 

" Neither." 

" No, I ain't jokin', strite. I've just bin argying 
wif a bloke as said he'd sooner be in a caw. I said I 
pitied 'is choice, and wouldn't give 'im much for his 
charnce. 'Cos why ? 'Cos mortar-caws ain't got no 
interleck. They cawn't tell the difrence 'tween 
nothink an' a brick wall. Now a 'os can. If 'c don't 
turn orf 'e tries ter jump th' wall, but yer mortar 
simply goes fer it, and then where are yer ? In 'eaven, 
if yer lucky, or in " 

But the rest of his sentence was lost in the roar 
that ascended from the crowd as the cars commenced 
their journey to Brighton. 

They went beautifully for a few yards, chased the 
mounted police right into the crowd, and then stopped. 

" It's th' standin' still as does it — not the standin' 
still, I mean the not going forrard, 'cos they don't 
stand still," said the cabby, excitedly. 

" Don't they hum ? " he cried. 

" They certainly do make a little noise." 

" But I mean, don't they whiff ? " 

" Whiff ? " 

He held his nose. 

" I say, guv'nor," shouted cabby to a fur-coated 
foreigner, " wot is it smells so ? " 


Meanwhile there was a certain " something Hngering 
with oil in it," permeating the fog, while a sound as 
of many humming-tops filled the air. 

Then the cars moved on a bit, amid the cheers and 
chaff of a good-humoured crowd. Presently another 
stoppage and more shivering. 

" 'As thet cove there got th' Vituss dance ? " 
inquired the elated cabby, indicating a gentleman 
who was wobbling like a piece of jelly. 

" That's the vibration," explained another. 

" 'Ow does the vibration agree w' the old six yer 
'ad last night ? " cabby inquired immediately. " I 
say, Chawlie, don't it make yer sea-sick ? Oh my ! 
th' smell ! " and he gasped and sat on his box, looking 

When all the carriages had wended their way to 
Westminster we asked cabby what he thought of the 

" Arsk my 'os," said he, with a look of disgust on 
his face. " What's yer opinion of it, old gal ? 
Failyer ? My sentiments. British public won't pay 
to be choked with stinks one moment and shut up like 
electricity t' next, Failyer ? Quite c'rect." 

Meanwhile the guests of the Motor-car Club were 
breakfasting at the Hotel Metropole, where appropriate 
speeches were made, the Earl of Winchilsea concluding 
his remarks with the dramatic production of a red 
flag, which, amid applause, he tore in half, to symbolise 
the passing of the old restrictions. 

There had been fifty-four entries for this triumphal 
procession, but not more than thirty-three cars put 
in an appearance. It is significant of the vast progress 
made since then that no car present was more than 
6 h.-p,, and that all, except the BoUee three- wheeled 
car, were precisely what they were frequently styled, 
" horseless carriages," vehicles built on traditional 
lines, from which the horses and the customary shafts 


were painfully missed. There had not yet been time 
suflicient for the evolution of the typical motor-car 

With the combined strategy of a Napoleon, the 
l>atience of Job, and the strength of Samson, the guests 
were at length piloted through the crowd and inducted 
into their seats, and the " procession " — which, it was 
sternly ordained, was not to be a " race " — set out. 

The President of the Motor-car Club, Harry J. 
Lawson, since convicted of fraud and sentenced to 
some months' imprisonment, led the way in his pilot- 
car, bearing a purple-and-gold banner, more or less 
suitably inscribed, himself habited in a strange 
costume, something between that of a yachtsman and 
the conductor of a Hungarian band. 

Reigate was reached at 12.30 by the foremost car, 
through twenty miles of crowded country, when rain 
descended once more upon the hapless day, and late 
arrivals splashed through in all the majesty of mud. 

The honours of the occasion belong to the little 
Bollee three-wheeler, of a type long since obsolete. 
The inventor, disregarding all rules and times, started 
at 11.30, and, making no stop at Reigate, drove on to 
Brighton, which he reached in the record time of two 
hours fifty-five minutes. The President's car was 
fourth, in seven hours twenty-two minutes thirty 

At Preston Park, on the Brighton boundary, the 
Mayor Mas to have welcomed the procession, which, 
headed by the President, was to proceed triumphantly 
into the town. A huge crowd assembled under the 
dripping elms and weeping skies, and there, at five 
o'clock, in the light of the misty lamps, stood and 
vibrated that presidential equipage and its banner 
with the strange device. By five o'clock only three 
other cars had arri\ed ; and so, wet and miserable, 
they, the Mayor and Council, and the mounted police 
all splashed into Brighton amid a howling gale. 

The rest should be silence, for no one ever knew 
the number of cars that completed the journey. Some 


said twenty-two, others thirteen ; but it is certain 
that the conditions were too much for many, and that 
while some reposed in wayside stables, others, broken 
down in lonely places, remained on the road all through 
that awful night. The guests, who in the morning 
had been unable to find seats on the " horseless 
carriages," and so had journeyed by special train or 
by coach, in the end had much to congratulate them- 
selves upon. 

But, after all, looking back upon the hasty 
enthusiasm that organised so long a journey at such 
a time of year, at so early a stage in the motor-car 
era, it seems remarkable, not that so many broke down, 
but that so large a proportion reached Brighton at all. 

The logical outcome of years of experiment and 
preparation was reached, in the supersession of the 
horsed London and Brighton Parcel Mail on June 2nd, 
1905, by a motor- van, and in the establishment, on 
August 30th, of the " Vanguard " London and Brighton 
Motor Omnibus Service, starting in summer at 9.30 
a.m., and reaching Brighton at 2 p.m. ; returning 
from Brighton at 4 p.m., and finally arriving at its 
starting-point, the " Hotel Victoria," Northumberland 
Avenue, at 9 p.m. With the beginning of Nov'ember, 
1905, that summer service was replaced by one to run 
through the winter months, with inside seats only, 
and at reduced fares. 

The first fatality on the Brighton Road in connection 
with motor-cars occurred in 1901, at Smitham Bottom, 
when a car just ])urchased by a retired builder and 
contractor of Brighton was being driven by him from 
London. The steering-gear failed, the car turned 
comijletely round, ran into an iron fence and pinned 
the owner's leg against it and a tree. The leg was 
broken and had to be amputated, and the unfortunate 
man died of the shock. 

But the motor-omnibus accident of July 12th, 1906, 
was a really spectacular tragedy. On that day a 
" Vanguard " omnibus, chartered by a party of thirty- 
four pleasure seekers at Orpington for a day at Brighton, 


was proceeding down Hand Cross Hill at twelve miles 
an hour when some essential part of the gear broke 
and the heavy vehicle, dashing down-hill at an ever- 
increasing pace, and swerving from side to side, struck 
a great oak. The shock flung the passengers off 
violently. Ten were killed and all the others injured, 
mostly very seriously. 

Meanwhile, amateur coaching had, in most of the 
years since the professional coaches had been driven 
off the road, flourished in the summer season. The 
last notable amateur was the American millionaire, 
Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, who for several seasons 
personally drove his own " Venture " coach between 
London and Brighton ; at first on the main " classic " 
road, and afterwards on the Dorking and Horsham 
route. He met his death on board the Lusitania, 
when it was sunk by the Germans, May 7th, 1915. 


Robinson Crusoe, weary of his island solitude, sighed, 
so the poet tells us, for " the midst of alarms." He 
should have chosen the Brighton Road ; for ever since 
it has been a road at all it has fully realised the Shakes- 
pearian stage-direction of " alarums and excursions." 
Particularly the " excursions," for it is the chosen 
track for most record-breaking exploits ; and thus it 
comes to pass that residents fortunate or imfortunate 
enough to dwell upon the Brighton Road have the 
whole panorama of sport unfolded before their eyes, 
whether they will or no, throughout the whirling year, 
and see strange sights, hear odd noises, and (since the 
coming of the motor-car) smell weird smells. 

The Brighton Road has ever been a course upon 
which the enthusiastic exponents of different methods 
of progression have eagerly exhibited their prowess. 
But to-day, although it affords as good going as, or 
better than, ever, it is not so suitable as it was for these 


displays of speed. TralBe has growiv with the growth 
of villages and townships along these fifty-two miles, 
and sport and public convenience are on the highway 
antipathetic. Yet every kind of sport has its will of 
the road. 

The reasons of this exceptional sporting character 
are not far to seek. They were chiefly sportsmen who 
travelled it in the days when it began to be a road : 
those full-blooded sportsmen, ready for any freakish 
wager, who were the boon companions of the Prince ; 
and they set a fashion which has not merely survived 
into modern times, but has grown amazingly. 

But it would never have been the road for sport it 
is, had its length not been so conveniently and alluringly 
near an even fifty miles. So much may be done or 
attempted along a fifty miles' course that would be 
impossible on a hundred. 

The very first sporting event on the Brighton Road 
of which any record survives is (with an astonishing 
fitness) the feat accomplished by the Prince of Wales 
himself on July 25th, 1784, during his second visit to 
Brighthelmstone. On that day he mounted his horse 
there and rode to London and back. He went by way 
of Cuckfield, and was ten hours on the road : four and 
a half hours going, five and a half hours returning. 
On August 21st of the same year, starting at one 
o'clock in the morning, he drove from Carlton House 
to the " Pavilion " in four hours and a half. The 
turn-out was a phaeton drawn by three horses harnessed 
tandem-fashion — what in those days was called a 
" random." 

One may venture the opinion that, although these 
performances were in due course surpassed, they were 
not altogether bad for a " simulacrum," as Thackeray 
was pleased to style him. 

Twenty-five years passed before any one arose to 
challenge the Prince's ride, and then only partially 
and indirectlv. In May, 1809. Cornet J. Wedderburn 
Webster, of the 10th (Prince of Wales's Own) Light 
Dragoons, accepted and won a wager of 300 to 200 


guineas with Sir IJ. (irahaiii about the jjerformance in 
three and a half hours of the journey from Brighton 
to Westminster Bridge, mounted upon one of the blood 
horses that usually ran in his phaeton. He accom- 
plished the ride in three hours twenty minutes, knocking 
the Prince's up record into the proverbial cocked hat. 
The rider stopped a while at Reigate to take a glass or 
two of wine, and compelled his horse to swallow the 
remainder of the bottle. 

This spirited affair was preceded in April, 1793, by 
a curious match which seems to deserve mention. 
A clergyman at Brighton betted an officer of the 
Artillery quartered there 100 guineas that he would 
ride his own horse to London sooner than the officer 
could go in a chaise and pair, the officer's horses to 
be changed en route as often as he might think proper. 
The Artilleryman accordingly despatched a servant to 
])rovide relays, and at twelve o'clock on an unfavourable 
night the parties set out to decide the bet, which was 
won by the clergyman with difficulty. He arrived in 
town at 5 a.m., only a few minutes before the chaise, 
which it had been thought was sure of winning. The 
driver of the last stage, however, nearly became stuck 
in a ditch, which mishap caused considerable delay. 
The Cuckfield driver performed his nine-miles' stage, 
between that place and Crawley, within the half- hour. 

The next outstanding incident was the run of the 
" Red Rover " coach, which, leaving the " Elephant 
and Castle " at 4 p.m. on June 19th, 1831, reached 
Brighton at 8.21 that evening : time, four hours twenty- 
one minutes. The fleeting era of those precursors of 
motor-cars, the steam-carriages, had by this time 
arrived, and after two or three had managed, at some 
kind of a slow pace, to get to and from Brighton, the 
" Autopsy " achieved a record of sorts in October, 
1833. " Autopsy " was an unfortunate name, sugges- 
tive of post-mortem examinations and " crowner's 
quests," but it proved not more dangerous than the 
" Mors " or " Hurtu " cars of to-day. The " Autopsy " 
was Walter Hancock's steam-carriage, and ran from 


his works at Stratford. It reached Brighton in eight 
hours thirty minutes ; from which, however, must be 
deducted three hours for a halt on the road. 

In the following year, February 4th, the " Criterion " 
coach, driven by Charles Harbour, took the King's 
Speech down to Brighton in three hours forty minutes — 
a coach record that not only quite eclipsed that of the 
" Red Rover," but has never yet been equalled, not 
even by Selby, on his great drive of July 13th, 1888 ; 
his times being, out and home respectively, three 
hours fifty-six minutes and three hours fifty-four 

In March, 1868, the first of the walking records was 
established, the sporting papers of that age chronicling 
what they very rightly described as a " Great Walking 
Feat " : a walk, not merely to Brighton, but to 
Brighton and back. This heroic undertaking, which 
was not repeated until 1902, was performed by one 
" Mr. Benjamin B. Trench, late Oxford University." 
On March 20th, for a heavy wager, he started to walk 
the hundred miles from Kennington Church to Brighton 
and back in twenty-five hours. Setting out on the 
Friday, at 6 p.m., he was back at Kennington Church 
at 5 p.m. Saturday, having thus won his wager with 
two hours to spare. It will be observed, or guessed, 
from the absence of odd minutes and seconds that in 
1868, timing, as an exact science, had not been born ; 
but it is evident that this stalwart walked his hundred 
miles on ordinary roads at an average rate of a little 
over four and a quarter miles an hour. " He then," 
concludes the report, " walked round the Oval several 
times, till seven o'clock." 

To each age the inventions it deserv'cs. Cycling 
would have been impossible in the mid-eighteenth 
century, when Walpole and Burton travelled with 
such difficulty. 

When roads began to deserve the name, the Mail 
Coach was introduced ; and when they grew hard 
and smooth, out of their former condition of ruts 
and mud, the quaint beginnings of the bicycle are 


noticed. The Hobby Horse and McAdam, the man 
who first preached the modern gospel of good roads, 
were contemporary. 

I have said the beginnings of the bicycle were 
quaint, and I think no one will be concerned to dispute 
this alleged quaintness of the Hobby Horse, which 
had a certain strictly limited popularity from 1819 to 
1830. I do not think any one ever rode from London 
to Brighton on one of these machines ; and, when 
you come to consider the build and the limitations of 
them, and then think of the hills on the way, it is 
quite impossible that any one should so ride. It was 
perhaps within the limits of human endurance to ride 
a Hobby Horse along the levels, to walk it up the 
rises, and then to madly descend the hills, and so 
reach Brighton, very sore ; but records do not tell us 
of such a stern pioneer. The Hobby Horse, it should 
be said, was an affair of two wooden wheels with 
iron tyres. A heavy timber frame connected these 
wheels, and on it the courageous rider straddled, 
his feet touching the ground. The Hobby Horse 
had no pedals, and the rider propelled his hundredweight 
or so of iron and timber by running in this straddUng 
position and thus obtaining a momentum which only 
on the down grade would carry him any distance. 

Thus, although the Hobby Horse was a favourite 
with the " bucks " of George the Fourth's time, they 
exercised upon it in strictly limited doses, and it was 
not until it had experienced a new birth and was born 
again as the " velocipede " of the '60's, that to ride 
fifty miles upon an ancestor of the present safety 
bicycle, and survive, was possible.* 

The front-driving velocipede— the well-known 
" boneshaker " — was invented by one Pierre Lallement, 
in Paris, in 1865-6, and exhibited at the Paris 
Exhibition of 1867. It was to the modern pneumatic- 
tyred " safety " what the roads of 1865 are to those 

• Kirkpatrick Macmillan, in 1839-40, invented a dwarf, rear- 
driving mactilne of the " safety " type, and was fined at Glasgow 
for " furiously riding." He made and sold several, but they attained 
notliing more than local and temporary success. 


of 1906. It also, like the Hobby Horse, had iron-shod 
wooden wheels, but had cranks and pedals, and could 
be ridden uphill. On such a machine the first cycle 
ride to Brighton was performed in 1869. This pioneer's 
fame on the Brighton Road belongs to John Mayall, 
junior, a well-known photographer of that period, who 
died in the summer of 1891. 

This marks the beginning of so important an epoch 
that the circumstances attending it are worthy a detailed 
account. They were felt, so long ago as 1874, to be 
deserving of such a record, for in the first number of an 
athletic magazine, Ixion, published in that year, "J. M., 
jun.," who, of course, was none other than Mayall him- 
self, began to tell the wondrous tale. He set out to 
narrate it at such length that, as an editorial note tells 
us, the concluding portion was reserved for the second 
number. But Ixion never reached a second number, 
and so Mayall's own account of his historic ride was 
never completed. 

He began, as all good chroniclers should, at the 
very beginning, telling how, in the early part of 1869, 
he was at Spencer's Gymnasium in Old Street, St. 
Luke's. There he saw a packing-case being followed 
by a Mr. Turner, whom he had seen at the Paris 
Exhibition of 1868, and witnessed the unpacking of it. 
From it came a something new and strange, " a piece 
of apparatus consisting mainly of two wheels, similar 
to one I had seen, not long before, in Paris." It was 
the first velocipede to reach England. 

It is a curious point that, although Mayall rode a 
" velocipede," and although these machines were 
generally so-called for a year or two after their introduc- 
tion, the word " bicycle " is claimed to have been 
first used in the Times in the early part of 1868 ; and 
certainly we find in the Daily News of September 7th 
in that year an allusion, in grotesque spelling, to 
" bysicles and trisicles which we saw at the Champs 
Elysees and the Bois de Boulogne this summer." 

But to return to the " velocipede " which had 
found its way to England at the beginning of 1869. 


The two-wheeled mystery was helped out of its 
wrappings and shavings, the Gymnasium was cleared, 
and Mr. Turner, taking off his coat, grasped the handles 
of the machine, and with a short run, to Mayall's 
intense surprise, vaulted on to it. Putting his feet on 
what were then called the " treadles," Turner, to the 
astonishment of the beholders, made the circuit of the 
room, sitting on this bar above a pair of wheels in line 
that ought to have collapsed so soon as the momentum 
ceased ; but, instead of falling down. Turner turned 
the front wheel at an angle to the other, and thus 
maintained at once a halt and a balance. 

Mayall was fired with enthusiasm. The next day 
(Saturday) he was early at the Gymnasium, " intending 
to have a day of it," and I think, from his account of 
what followed, that he did, in every sense, have such 
a day. 

As Spencer had hurt himself by falling from the 
machine the night before, Mayall had it almost wholly 
to himself, and, after a few successful journeys round 
the room, determined to try his luck in the streets. 
Accordingly, at one o'clock in the afternoon, amid the 
plaudits of a hundred men of the adjacent factory, 
engaged in the congenial occupation of lounging 
against the blank walls in their dinner-hour, the 
velocipede was hoisted on to a cab and driven to 
Portland Place, where it was put on the pavement, 
and Mayall prepared to mount. Even nowadays the 
cycling novice requires plenty of room, and as Portland 
Place is well known to be the widest street in London, 
and nearly the most secluded, it seems probable that 
this intrepid pioneer deliberately chose it in order to 
have due scope for his evolutions. 

It was a raw and muddy day, with a high wind. 
Mayall sprang on to the velocipede, but it slipped on 
the wet road, and he measured his length in the mud. 
The day-out was beginning famously. 

Spencer, who had been worsted the night before, 
contented himself with giving Mayall a start when he 
made another attempt, and this time that courageous 


person got as far as the Marylcbone Road, and across 
it on to the pavement of the other side, where he fell 
with a crash as though a barrow had been upset. But 
again vaulting into the saddle, he lumbered on into 
Regent's Park, and so to the drinking-fountain near 
the Zoological Gardens, where, in attempting to turn 
round, he fell over again. Mounting once more, he 
returned. Looking round, " there was the park- 
keeper coming hastily towards me, making indignant 
signs. I passed quickly out of the Park gate into the 
roadway." Thus early began the long warfare between 
Cycling and Authority. 

Thence, sometimes falling into the road, with 
Spencer trotting after him, he reached the foot of 
Primrose Hill, and then, at Spencer's home, staggered 
on to a sofa, and lay there, exhausted, soaked in rain 
and perspiration, and covered with mud. It had been 
in no sense a light matter to exercise with that ninety- 
three pounds' weight of mingled timber and iron- 

On the Monday he trundled about, up to the 
" Angel," Islington, where curious crowds assembled, 
asking the uses of the machine and if the falling off 
and grovelling in the mud was a part of the pastime. 
The following day, very sore, but still undaunted, he 
re-visited the " Angel," went through the City, and so 
to Brixton and Clapham, where, at the house of a 
friend, he looked over maps, and first conceived the 
" stupendous " idea of riding to Brighton. 

The following morning he endeavoured to put that 
plan into execution, and toiled up Brixton Hill, and so 
through Croydon, up the " never-ending " rise, as it 
seemed, of Smitham Bottom to the crest of Merstham 
Hill. There, tired, he half plunged into the saddle, 
and so thundered and clattered down hill into 
Merstham. At Redhill, seventeen and a half miles, 
utterly exhausted, he relinquished the attempt, and 
retired to the railway station, where he lay for some 
time on one of the seats until he revived. Then, to 
the intense admiration and amusement of the station- 


master and his staff, he rode about the phitfonn, 
dodging the pillars, and narrowly escaping a fall on 
to the rails, until the London train came in. 

On Wednesday, February 17th, Mayall, Rowley B. 
Turner, and Charles Spencer, all three on velocipedes, 
started from Trafalgar Square for Brighton. The 
party kept together until Redhill was reached, when 
Mayall took the lead, and eventually reached Brighton 
alone. The time occupied was " about " twelve 
hours. Being a photographer, Mayall of course 
caused himself to be photographed standing beside 
the instrument of torture on which he made that 
weary ride, and thus we have preserved to us the 
weird spectacle he presented : more like that of a 
Russian convict than an athletic young Englishman. 
A peaked cap, an attenuated frock-coat, very tight 
in the waist, and stiff and shiny leather leggings, 
completed a costume strange enough to make a modern 
cyclist shudder. Fearful whiskers and oily-looking 
long hair add to the strangeness of this historic 

With this exploit athletic competition began, and 
the long series of modern " records " on the Brighton 
Road were set a-going, for during the March of that 
year two once well-known amateur pedestrian members 
of the Stock Exchange, W. M. and H. J. Chinnery, 
walked down to Brighten in 11 hrs. 25 mins., and on 
April 14th C. A. Booth bettered Mayall's adventure, 
riding down on a velocipede in 9 hrs. 30 mins. 

Then came the Amateur Bicycle Club's race, 
September 19th, 1872. By that time not only had 
the word " velocipede " been discarded for " bicycle," 
and " treadles " become " pedals," but the machine 
itself, although in general appearance very much the 
same, had been improved in detail. The 36-inch 
front wheel had been increased to 44 inches, the 
wooden spokes had given place to wire, and strips 
of rubber, nailed on, replaced the iron tyres. Probably 
as a result of these refinements the winner, A Temple, 
reached Brighton in 5 hrs. 25 mins. 


By 1872 the bicycle had advanced a further stage 
towards the giraffe-hke altitude of the " ordinary," 
and already there were many clubs in existence. On 


From a contemrorary photograph. 

August 16th of that year six members of the Surrey 
and six of the Middlesex Bicycle Clubs rode from 
Kennington Oval to Brighton and back, Causton 


captain of the Surrey, being the first into Brighton. 
Riding a 50-inch " Keen " bicycle he reeled off the 
fifty miles in 4 hrs. 51 mins. The new machine 
was something to be reckoned with. 

On February 9th, 1874, a certain John Revel, junr., 
backed himself in heavy sums to ride a bicycle the 
whole distance from Brighton to London quicker than 
a Mr. Gregory could walk the 22| miles from Reigate 
to London. Revel was to leave Brighton at the 
junction of the London and Montpellier roads at the 
same time as Gregory started from a point between 
the twenty-second and twenty-third milestones. The 
pedestrian won, finishing in 3 hrs. 27 mins. 47 sees., 
Revel taking 5 hrs. 57 mins. for the whole journey. 

The bicycle had by this time firmly established 
itself. It grew more and more of an athletic exercise 
to mount the steadily growing machines, but once 
seated on them the going was easier. April 27th, 1874, 
found Alfred Howard cycling from Brighton to 
London in 4 hrs. 25 mins., a speed which works out 
at eleven miles an hour. 

In 1875 the Brighton Road seems to have been left 
severely alone, and 1876 was signalised only by two 
of the fantastic wagers that have been numerously 
decided on this half-century of miles. In that year, 
we are told, a Mr. Frederick Thompson staked one 
thousand guineas that Sir John Lynton would not 
wheel a barrow from Westminster Abbey to the " Old 
Ship " at Brighton in fifteen hours ; and the knight, 
accepting the bet, made his appearance airily clothed 
in the " shorts " of the recognised running costume 
and wheeling a barrow made of bamboo, and provided 
with handles six feet long. He won easily, but 
whether the loser paid the thousand guineas, or lodged 
a protest with referees, does not appear. He should 
have specified the make of barrow, for the kinds range 
through quite a number of varieties, from the coster's 
barrow to the navvy's and the gardener's. But the 
wager did not contemplate the fancy article with 
which Sir John Lynton made his journey. At any 


rate, I have my doubts about the genuineness of the 
whole affair, for, seeking this "Sir John Lynton " in 
the usual books of reference of that period, there is no 
such knight or baronet to be discovered. 

According to the Sussex newspapers of 1876, over 
fifteen thousand peojile assembled in the King's Road 
at Brighton to witness the finish of the sporting event 
between Major Penton and an unnamed competitor. 
Major Penton agreed to give his opponent a start of 
twenty-seven miles in a pedestrian match to Brighton, 
on the condition that he was allowed a " go-as-j'^ou- 
please " method, while the other man was to walk in 
the fair " heel-and-toe " style. The major won by a 
yard and a half in the King's Road, through the 
excitement of his competitor, who was disqualified at 
the last minute by breaking into a trot. 

Freakish sport was at this time decidedly in the 
ascendant, for the sole event of 1877 was the extra- 
ordinary escapade of two persons who on September 
11th undertook to ride, dressed as clowns, on donkeys, 
from London to Croydon, seated backwards with their 
faces towards the animals' tails. From Croydon to 
Redhill they were to walk the three-legged walk — i.e., 
tied together by right and left legs — and thence to 
Crawley (surely a most appropriate place) on hands 
and knees. From that place to the end their pilgrimage 
was to be made walking in boots each weighted with 
15 lb. of lead. This last ordeal speedily finished 
them, for they had failed to accomplish more than 
half a mile when they broke down. 

John Granby was another of these fantastic persons, 
whose proper place would be a lunatic ward. He 
essayed to walk to Brighton with 50 lb. weight of 
sand round his shoulders, in a bag, but he sank under 
the weight by the time of his arrival at Thornton 

In 1878 P. J. Burt bettered the performance of the 
Chinnerys, ten years earlier, by thirty-three minutes, 
walking to the Aquarium in 10 hrs. 52 mins. Most 
authorities agree in making his starting-point the 


Clock Tower on the north side of Wcstmhister Bridge, 
52j miles, and thus we ean figure out his speed at about 
five miles an hour. All the athletic world wondered, 
and when, in 1884, C. L. O'Malley (pedestrian, swimmer, 
steeplechaser, and boxer), walking against B. Nickels, 
junr., lowered that record by so much as 1 hr. 4 mins., 
every one thought finality in long-distance padding 
the hoof had been reached. 

Meanwhile, however, 1882 had witnessed another 
odd adventure on the way to Brightoii. A London 
clubman declared, while at dinner with a friend, that 
the bare-footed tramps sometimes to be seen in the 
country were not to be pitied. Boots, he said, were 
after all conventions, and declared it an easy matter 
to walk, say, fifty miles without them. He challenged 
his friend, and a walk to Brighton was arranged. The 
friend retired on his blisters in twelve miles : the 
challenger, however, with the soles of his stockings 
long since worn away, plodded on until he fainted with 
pain when only four miles from Brighton. 

On April 6th, 1886, J. A. M'Intosh, of the London 
Athletic Club, walked to Brighton in 9 hrs. 25 mins. 
8 sees., improving upon O'Malley's best by 22 mins. 
52 sees. 

The year 1888 was notable. On January 1st the 
horse " Ginger," in a match against time, was driven 
at a trot to Brighton in 4 hrs. 16 mins. 30 sees., and 
another horse, " The Bird," trotted from Kennington 
Cross to Brighton in 4 hrs. 30 mins. On July 13th 
Selby drove the " Old Times " coach from the 
White Horse Cellar, in Piccadilly, to Brighton and 
back in ten minutes under eight hours, thus 
arousing that competition of cyclists which, first 
directed towards beating his performance, has been 
continued to the present day. 



Selby's drive was very widely chronicled. The 
elaborate reports and extensive preliminary arrange- 
ments compare oddly with the early sporting events 
undertaken on the spur of the moment and recorded 
only in meagre, unilluminating paragraphs. What 
would we not give for a report of the Prince of Wales's 
ride in 1784, so elaborated. 

A great drive, and a great coachman, worthily 
carrying on the good old traditions of the road. It 
has, however, been already pointed out that neither 
on his outward journey (3 hrs. 56 mins.), nor on the 
return (3 hrs. 54 mins.), did he quite equal the record 
of the " Criterion " coach, which on February 4th, 
1834, took the King's Speech from London to Brighton 
in 3 hrs. 40 mins. 

Selby did not live long to enjoy the world-wide 
repute his great drive gained him. He died, only 
forty-four years of age, at the end of the same year 
that saw this splendid feat. 

Selby's memorable drive put cyclists upon their 
mettle, but not at once was any determined attempt 
made to better it. The dwarf rear-driving " safety " 
bicycle, the " Rover," which, introduced in 1885, set 
the existing pattern, was not yet perfected, and cyclists 
still rode solid or cushion tyres, instead of the now 
universal pneumatic kind. 

It was, therefore, not until August, 1889, that after 
several unsuccessful attempts had been made to better 
the coach-time on that double journey of 108 miles, a 
team of four cyclists — E. J. WilHs, G. L. Morris, C. W. 
Schafer, and S. Walker, members of the Polytechnic 
Cycling Club — did that distance in 7 hrs. 36 mins. 19f 
sees. ; or 13 mins. 40| sees, less ; and even then the feat 
was accomplished only by the four cyclists dividing the 
journey between them into four relays. Two other 
teams, on as many separate occasions, reduced the 
figures by a few minutes, and M. A. Holbein and 
P. C, Wilson singly made unsuccessful attempts. 

It was left to F. W. Shorland, a verj' young rider, 



to be the first of a series of single-handed breakers of 
the coaching time. He accomplished the feat in 
June, 1890, upon a pneumatic-tyred " Geared Facile " 
safety, and reduced the time to 7 hrs. 19 mins., being 
himself beaten on July 23rd by S. F. Edge, riding 
a cushion-tyred safety. Edge put the time at 7 hrs, 
2 mins. 50 sees., and, in addition, first beat Selby's 
outward journey, the times being — coach, 3 hrs. 
6 mins. ; cycle, 3 hrs. 18 mins. 25 sees. Then came 
et another stalwart, C. A. Smith, who on September 
3rd of the same year beat Edge by 10 mins. 40 sees. 
Even a tricyclist — E. P. Moorhouse — essayed the 
feat on September 30th, but failed, his time being 
8 hrs. 9 mins. 24 sees. 

To the adventitious aid of pacemakers, fresh and 
fresh again, to stir the record-breaker's flagging 
energies, much of this success was at first due ; but 
at the present day those times have been exceeded on 
many unpaced rides. 

Selby's drive had the effect of creating a new and 
arbitrary point of departure for record-making, and 
" Hatchett's " has thus somewhat confused the issues 
with the times and distances associated with West- 
minster Bridge. 

The year 1891 was a blank, so far as cycling was 
concerned, but on March 20th an early Stock Exchange 
pedestrian to walk to Brighton set out to cover the 
distance between Hatchett's and the " Old Ship " in 
11 hrs. 15 mins. This was E. H. Cuthbertson, who 
backed himself to equal the Chinnerys' performance of 
1869. Out of this undertaking arose the additional 
and subsidiary match between Cuthbertson and 
another Stock Exchange member, H. K. Paxton, as to 
which should quickest walk between Hatchett's and 
the " Greyhound," Croydon. Paxton, a figure of 
Brobdingnagian proportions, 6 ft. 4 in. in height, and 
scaling 17 stone, received a time allowance of 23 
minutes. Both aspirants went into three weeks' 
severe training, and elaborate arrangements were 
made for attendance, timing, and refreshment on the 


road. Paxton, urged to renewed efforts in the ultimate 
yards by the strains of a more or less German band, 
which seeing the eompetitors approach, played "See the 
Conquering Hero Comes,"* won the match to Croydon 
by 1 min. 18 sees., but did not stop here, continuing 
with Cuthbertson to Brighton. Although Cuthbertson 
won his wager, and walked down in 10 hrs. 6 mins. 18 
sees. (9 hrs. 55 mins, 34 sees, from Westminster) and 
won several heavy sums by this performance, he did 
not equal that of Mcintosh in 1886. The old-timer, 
deducting a j^roportionate time for the difference 
between the finishing-points, the Aquarium and the 
" Old Ship," was still half an hour to the good. 

The next four years were exclusively cyclists' years. 
On June 1st. 1892. S. F. Edge made a great effort to 
regain the record that had been wrested from him by 
C. A. Smith in 1890, and did indeed win it back, but 
only by the fractional margin of 1 min. 3 sees., and 
only held that advantage for three months, Edward 
Dance, in the last of three separate attempts, succeeding 
on September 6th in lowering Edge's time, but only 
by 2 mins. 6 sees. Then three days later, R. C. 
Nesbit made a " record " for the high " ordinary " 
bicycle, of 7 hrs. 42 mins. 50 sees., the last appearance 
of the now extraordinary " ordinary " on this stage. 

The course was from 1893 considerably varied, the 
Road Record Association being of opinion that as the 
original great object — the breaking of the coach time — 
had been long since attained, there was no need to 
maintain the Piccadilly end, or the Cuckfield route. 
The course selected, therefore, became from Hyde 
Park Corner to the Aquarium at Brighton, by way of 
Hickstead and Bolney. On September 12th of this 
year Edge tried for and again recaptured this keenly- 
contested prize, this time by the respectable margin 
of 35 mins. 13 sees., only to have it snatched away on 
September 17th by A. E. Knight, who knocked off 
3 mins. 19 sees. Again, in another couple of days, the 

• " There's nothing brings you round 

Like the trumpet's martial sotmd." — W. S. Gilbert. 

" The Pirates of Penzance." 


figures were revised, C. A. Smith, on one of the few 
occasions on which he deserted the tricycle for the 
two-wheeler, accomplishing the double journey in 6 hrs. 
6 mins. 46 sees. On the 22nd of the same busy month 
Edge for the fourth and last time took the record, 
on this occasion by the margin of 14 mins. 16 sees. 
The road then knew him no more as a record-breaking 
cyclist, and his achievement lasted — ^not days, but 
hours, for on the same day Dance lowered it by the 
infmitesimal fraction of 12 seconds. On October 4th 
W. W. Robertson set up a tricycle record of 7 hrs. 
24 mins. 2 sees, for the double journey, and then a 
crowded year ended. 

The much-worried records of the Brighton Road 
came in for another turn in 1894, W. R. Toft, on 
June 11th, reducing the tricycle time, and C. G, 
Wridgway on September 12th lowering that for the 
bicycle. This year was also remarkable for the 
appearance of women speed cyclists, setting up records 
of their own, Mrs. Noble cycling to Brighton and back 
in 8 hrs. 9 mins., followed on September 20th by Miss 
Reynolds in 7 hrs. 48 mins. 46 sees., and on September 
22nd by Miss White in 42 mins. shorter time. 

The season of 1895 was not very eventful, with 
the ride by A. A. Chase in 5 hrs. 34 mins. 58 sees. ; 
.-34 sees, better than the previous best, and the lowering 
by J. Parsley of the tricycle record by over an hour ; 
but it was notable for an almost incredible eccentricity, 
that of cycling backwards to Brighton. This feat 
was accomplished by J. H. Herbert in November, as 
an advertising sensation on behalf of the inventor of 
a new machine, exhibited at the Stanley Show. He 
rode facing the hind wheel and standing on the pedals. 
Punctures, mud, rain, and wind delayed him, but he 
reached Brighton in 7 hrs. 45 mins. 

On June 26th, 1896, E. D. Smith and C. A. Green- 
wood established a tandem-cycle record of 5 hrs. 
37 mins. 34 sees., demolished September 15th ; while 
on July 15th C. G. Wridgway regained his lost single 
record, beating Chase's figures by 12 mins. 25 sees. 


In this year W. Franks, a professional pedestrian in 
his forty-fifth year, beat all earlier walks to Brighton, 
eclipsing Mcintosh's walk of 1886 by 18 mins. 18 sees. 
But, far above all other considerations, 1896 was 
notable for the legalising of motor-cars. On Motor- 
Day, November 14th, a great number of automobiles 
were to go in procession — not a race — from West- 
minster to Brighton. Most of them broke down, 
but a 6 h.-p. Bollee car (a three-wheeled variety now 
obsolete) made a record journey in 2 hrs. 55 mins. 

The year 1897 opened on April 10th with the open 
London to Brighton walk of the Polytechnic Harriers. 
The start was made from Regent Street, but time was 
taken separately, from that point and from Westminster 
Clock Tower. There were thirty-seven starters. E. 
Knott, of the Hairdressers' A.C. — a quaint touch — 
finished in 8 hrs. 56 mins. 44 sees. Thirty-one of the 
competitors finished well within twelve hours. 

On May 4th W. J. Neason, cycling to Brighton and 
back, made the distance in 5 hrs. 19 mins. 39 sees., 
and on July 12th Miss M. Foster beat Miss White's 
1894 record by 20 mins. 37 sees., while on the following 
day Richard Palmer made a better run than Neason's 
by 9 mins. 45 sees. Neason, however, got his own 
again in the following September, by 3 mins. 3 sees., 
and on October 27th P. Wheelock and G. J. Fulford 
improved the tandem record of 1896 by 25 mins. 
41 sees. 

By this time the thoroughly artificial character of 
most of these later cycling records had become 
glaringly apparent. It was not only seen in the fact 
that their heavy cost was largely borne by cycle and 
tyre-makers, who found advertisement in them, but 
it was obvious also in the arbitrary selection of the 
starting-points, by which a record run to Brighton 
and back might be begun at Purley, run to Brighton, 
then back to Purley, and thence to London and back 
again, with any variation that might suit the day and 
the rider. It was evident, too, that the growing 
elaboration of pace-making, first by relays of riders 


and latterly by motors, had reduced the thing to an 
absurdity in which there was no credit and — worse still 
— no advertisement. Then, therefore, a new order of 
things was set agoing, and the era of unpaced records 
was begun. 

On September 27th, 1898, E. J. Steel established a 
London to Brighton and back unpaced cycling record 
of 6 hrs. 23 mins. 55 sees. ; and on the same day the 
new unpaced tricycle record of 8 hrs. 11 mins. 10 sees, 
for the double journey was set up by P. F. A. Gomme. 

The South London Harriers' open " go-as-you- 
please " walking or running match of May 6th, 1899, 
attracted the attention of the athletic world in a very 
marked degree. Cyclists, in especial, were in evidence, 
to make the pace, to judge, to sponge down the com- 
petitors or to refresh them by the wayside. The start 
was made from Big Ben soon after seven o'clock in the 
morning, when fourteen aspirants, all clad in the 
regulation running costumes and sweaters, went forth 
to win the modern equivalent of the victor's laurelled 
crown in the ancient Olympian games. F. D. Randall, 
who won, got away from his most dangerous opponent 
on the approach to Redhill, and, increasing that 
advantage to a hundred yards' lead when in the midst 
of the town, was not afterwards seriously challenged. 
He finished in the splendid time of 6 hrs. 58 mins. 18 
sees. Saward, the second, completed it in 7 hrs. 
17 mins. 50 sees., and the veteran E. Ion Pool in 
another 4 mins. 

As if to show the superiority of the cycle over mere 
pedestrian efforts, H. Green on June 30th cycled from 
London to Brighton and back, unpaced, in 5 hrs. 
50 mins. 23 sees., and on August 12th, 1902, reduced 
his own record by 20 mins. 1 sec. Meanwhile, Harry 
Vowles, a blind musician of Brighton, who had for 
some years made an annual walk from Brighton to 
London, on October 15th, 1900, accompUshed his 
ambition to walk the distance in one day. He left 
Brighton at 5 a.m. and reached the Alhambra, in 
Leicester Square, at ten o'clock that night. 


On October 31st, 1902, the Surrey Walking Clut)'s 
104 miles contest to Brighton and back resulted in 
J. Butler winning : time, 21 hrs. 36 mins. 27 sees., 
Butler performing the single journey on March 14th 
the following year in 8 hrs. 43 mins. 16 sees. For 
fair heel-and-toe walking, that was considered at the 
time the ultimate achievement ; but it was beaten on 
April 9th, 1904, in the inter-club walk of the Black- 
heath and Ranelagh Harriers, when T. E. Hammond 
established the existing record of 8 hrs. 26 mins. 
57| sees. — the astonishing speed of six miles an 

This event was preceded by the famous Stock 
Exchange Walk of May Day, 1903. Every one knows 
the Stock Exchange to be almost as great on sport as 
it is in finance, but no one was prepared for the magni- 
tude finally assumed by the match idly suggested on 
March 16th, during a dull hour on the Kaffir Market. 
Business had long been in a bad way, not in that 
market alone, but in the House in general. The trail 
of the great Boer War and its heritage of debt, taxation, 
and want of confidence lay over all departments, and 
brokers, jobbers, principals, and clerks alike were so 
heartily tired of going to " business " day after day 
when there was no business — and when there calcu- 
lating how much longer they could afford annual 
subscriptions and office rent — that any relief was 
eagerly accepted. In three days twenty-five com- 
petitors had entered for the proposed walk to Brighton, 
and the House found itself not so poverty-stricken 
but that prize-money to the extent of £35, for three 
silver cups, was subscribed. And then the Press — 
that Press which is growing daily more hysterical and 
irresponsible — got hold of it and boomed it, and 
there was no escaping the Stock Exchange Walk. By 
the morning of March 25th, when the list was closed, 
there were 107 competitors entered and the prize-list 
had grown to the imposing total of three gold medals, 
valued, one at £10 10*. and two at £5 5.?., with two 
silver cups valued at £10 10.?., two at £5 5*., and silver 


commemoration medals for all arriving at Brighton 
in thirteen hours. 

Long before May Day the Press had worked the 
thing up to the semblance of a matter of Imperial 
importance, and London talked of little else. April 
13th had been at first spoken of for the event, but 
many of the competitors wanted to get into training, 
and in the end May Day, being an annual Stock 
Exchange holiday, was selected. 

There were ninety-nine starters from the Clock 
Tower at 6.30 on that chill May morning : not middle- 
aged stockbrokers, but chiefly young stockbrokers' 
clerks. All the papers had published particulars of 
the race, together with final weather prognostications ; 
hawkers sold official programmes ; an immense crowd 
assembled ; a host of amateur photographers descended 
upon the scene, and the police kept Westminster Bridge 
clear. Although by no means to be compared with 
Motor-car Day, the occasion was well honoured. 

Advertisers had, as usual, seized the opportunity, 
and almost overwhelmed the start ; and among the 
motor-cars and the cyclists who followed the com- 
petitors down the road the merits of Somebody's 
Whisky, and the pills, boots, bicycles, beef-tea, and 
flannels of some other bodies impudently obtruded. 

" What went ye out for to see ? " The pubhc 
undoubtedly expected to see a number of pursy, 
jilethoric City men, attired in frock-coats and silk- 
hats, walking to Brighton. What they did see was a 
crowd of apparently professional pedestrians, lightly 
clad in the flannels and " shorts " of athletics, trailing 
down the road, with here and there an " unattached " 
walker, such as Mr. Pringle, who, fulfiUing the 
conditions of a wager, walked down in immaculate 
silk hat, black coat, and spats — " immaculate," that 
is to say, at the start : as a chronicler adds, " things 
were rather different later." They were ; for thirteen 
hours' (more or less) rain and mud can work vast 
changes. The day was, in fact, as unpleasant as well 
could be imagined, and it is said much for the sporting 


enthusiasm of the countryside that the whole length 
of the road to Brighton was so crowded with spectators 
that it resembled a thronged City thoroughfare. 

It said still more for the pluck and endurance of 
those who undertook the walk that of the ninety-nine 
starters no fewer than seventy-eight finished within 
the thirteen hours' limit qualifying them for the 
commemorative medal. G. D. Nicholas, the favourite, 
heavily backed by sportsmen, led from the beginning, 
making the pace at the rate of six miles an hour. He 
reached Streatham, six miles, in 59 mins. 

And then a craze for walking to Brighton set in. 
On June 6th the butchers of Smithfield Market walked, 
and doubtless, among the many other class-races, the 
bakers, and the candlestick-makers as well, and the 
proprietors of baked-potato cans and the roadmen, 
and indeed the Lord alone knows who not. Of the 
sixty butchers, who had a much more favourable day 
than the stockbrokers, the winner, H. F. Otway, 
covered the distance in 9 hrs. 21 mins. 1* sees., thus 
beating Broad by some 9 minutes. 

Whether the dairymen of London ever executed 
their proposed daring feat of walking to Brighton, 
each trundling an empty churn, does not appear ; 
but it seems likely that many a fantastic person walked 
down carrying an empty head. A German, one 
Anton Hauslian, even set out on the journey pushing 
a j)erambulator containing his wife and six-year-old 
daughter ; and on June 16th an American, a Miss 
Florence, an eighteen-year-old music-hall equilibrist, 
started to " walk " the distance on a globe. She used 
for the purpose two globes, each made of wood covered 
with sheepskin, and having a diameter of 26 in. ; one 
weighing 20 lb., for uphill work ; the other weighing 
75 lb., for levels and descents. Starting at an early 
hour on June 16th, and " walking " ten hours a day, 
she reached the Aquarium at the unearthly hour of 
2.40 on the morning of the 21st. 

Those who could not rehearse the epic flights of 
these fifty-two miles walked shorter distances ; and, 


while the craze lasted, not only did the " midinettes " 
of Paris take the walking mania severely, but the 
waitresses of various London teashops performed ten- 
mile wonders. 

On June 20th the gigantic " go-as-you-please " 
walking or running match to Brighton organised 
by the Evening News took place, in that dismal weather 
so generally associated, whatever the season of the 
year, with sport on the Brighton Road. Two hundred 
and thirty-eight competitors had entered, but only 
ninety actually faced the starter at 5 o'clock a.m. 
They were a very miscellaneous concourse of 
professional and amateur " peds " ; some with training 
and others with no discoverable athletic qualifications 
at all ; some mere boys, many middle-aged, one in his 
fifty-second year, and even one octogenarian of eighty- 
five. Among them was a negro, F. W. Craig, known 
to the music-halls by the poetic name of the " Coffee 
Cooler " ; and labouring men, ostlers, and mechanics 
of every type were of the number. It was as complete 
a contrast from the Stock Exchange band as could 
be well imagined. 

The wide difference in age, and the fitness and 
unfitness of the many competitors, resulted in the race 
being won by the foremost while the rearmost were 
struggling fifteen miles behind. The intrepid 
octogenarian was still wearily plodding on, twenty 
miles from Brighton, six hours after the winner, Len 
Hurst, had reached the Aquarium in the record time — 
26 mins. 18 sees, better than Randall's best of May 6th, 
1899 — of 6 hrs. 32 mins. Some amazing figures were 
set up by the more youthful and incautious, who 
reached Croydon, 9J miles, in 54 mins., but were 
eventually worn down by those who were wise enough 
to save themselves for the later stages. 

In the following August Miss M. Foster repeated 
her ride of July 12th, 1897, and cycled to Brighton 
and back, on this occasion, with motor-pacing, 
reducing her former record to 5 hrs. 33 mins, 
8 sees. 



On November 7th the Surrey Walking Club's 
Brighton and back match was won by H. W. Horton, 
in 20 hrs. 31 mins. 53 sees., disposing of Butler's best of 


October 31st, 1902, by a margin of 1 hr. 4 mins. 84 sees. 

With 1904 a decline in Brighton Road sport set in, 

for it was memorable only for the Blaekheath and 


Ranelagh Harriers' inter-club walk to Brighton of 
April 9th. But that was indeed a memorable event, 
for T. E. Hammond then abolished Butler's remaining 
record, of 8 hrs. 43 mins. 16 sees, for the single trip, 
and replaced it by his own of 8 hrs. 26 mins. 57| sees. 

Even the efforts of cyclists seem to for a time have 
spent themselves, for 1905 witnessed only the new 
unpaced record made July 19th by R. Shirley, who 
cycled there and back in 5 hrs. 22 mins. 5 sees., thus 
shearing off a mere 8 mins. 5 sees, from Green's per- 
formance of so long as three years before. What the 
future may have in store none may be so hardy as to 
prophesy. Finality has a way of ever receding into 
the infinite, and when the unpaced cyclist shall have 
beaten the paced record of 5 hrs. 6 mins. 42 sees, made 
by Neason in 1897, other new fields will arise to be 
conquered. And let no one say that speed and sport 
on the Brighton Road have finally declined, for, as 
we have seen, it is abundantly easy in these days for 
a popular Press to " call spirits from the vasty deep," 
and arouse sporting enthusiasm almost to frenzy, 
whenever and wherever it is " worth the while." 

Thus, in pedcstrianism, other new times have since 
been set up. On September 22nd, 1906, J. Butler, 
in the Polytechnic Harriers' Open Walk, finished to 
Brighton in 8 hrs. 23 mins. 27 sees. On June 22nd, 
1907, Hammond performed the double journey, 
London to Brighton and back, in 18 hrs. 13 mins. 
37 sees. And on May 1st, 1909, he regained the single 
journey record by his performance of 8 hrs. 18 mins. 
18 sees. On September 4th of the same year H. L. 
Ross further reduced the figures to 8 hrs. 11 mins. 
14 sees. 



Riding, Driving, Cycling, Running, Walking, etc. 



1784, July 25. 

„ Aug. 21. 
1809, May. 
1831, June 19. 

1833, Oct. 

1834, Feb. 4. 

1868. Mar. 20. 

1869, Feb. 17. 

„ Mar. 6. 
„ April 14. 

1872, Sept. 19. 

1873, Aug. 16. 

1874, April 27. 

1884, — . 
1886, April 10. 
1888, Jan. 1. 

h. m. s. 

Prince of Wales rode horseback from 
the " Pavilion," Brighton, to Carlton 
House, London, and returned .10 

Going 4 30 

Returning . . . . 5 30 

Prince of Wales drove phreton, three 
horses tandem, from Carlton House 
to " Pavilion " . . . . 4 30 

Cornet Webster of the 10th Light 
Dragoons, rode horseback from 
Brighton to Westminster Bridge . 3 20 

The " Red Rover " coach, leaving the 
" Elephant and Castle " at 4 p.m., 
reached Brighton 8.21 . . . 4 21 

Walter Hancock's steam-carriage 
" Autopsy " performed the distance 
between Stratford and Brighton . j 8 30 
(Halted 3 hours on road. Actual 
running time, 5 hrs. 30 mins.) 

" Criterion " coach, London to 

Brighton 3 40 

Benjamin B. Trench walked Kcnning- 
ton Church to Brighton and back 
(100 miles) 23 

John Mayall, jun., rode a velocipede 
from Trafalgar Square to Brighton 
in " about " . . . . 12 

W. M. and H.J. Chinnery walked from 

Westminster Bridge to Brighton . 11 25 

C. A. Booth rode a velocipede London 

to Brighton . . . . 9 30 

Amateur Bicycle Club's race, London 
to Brighton ; won by A. Temple, 
riding a 44-in. wheel . . . 5 25 

Six members of the Surrey B.C. and 
six of the Middlesex B.C. rode to 
Brighton and back, starting from 
Kennington Oval at 6.1 a.m. 
Causton, captain of the Surrey, 
reached the " Albion," Brighton, in 
4 hrs. 51 mins., riding a 50 -in. Keen 
bicycle. W. Wood (Middlesex) did 
the 100 miles . . . . 11 8 

A. Howard cycled Brighton to London 4 25 

P. J. Burt walked from Westminster 

Clock Tower to Aquarium, Brighton 10 52 

C. L. O'Malley walked from West- 
minster Clock Tower to Aquarium, 
Brighton 9 48 

J. A. Mcintosh walked from West- 
minster Clock Tower to Aquarium, 
Brighton 9 25 8 

Horse " Ginger " trotted to Brighton . 4 16 30 





1888, July 13. 

1889, Aug. 10. 


Mar. 30 

AprU 13 


July 23 

Sept. 3 

„ 30 


Mar. 20 


June 1 


Sept. 6 


Sept. 12 
„ 17 
,. 19 
,. 22 


Oct. 4 

June 11 

Sept. 12 

„ 20 


„ 22 


Sept. 26 
Oct. 17 


Juno 26 


— . 


July 15 
Sept. 15 

James Sclby drove " Old Times " 

coach from " Hatchett's," Piccadilly, 

to " Old Ship," Brighton, and back 

Going ..... 

Retvirning .... 

Team of four cyclists — E. J. Willis, 
G. L. Morris, C. W. Schafer, and S. 
Walker — dividing the distance 
between them, cycled from 
" Hatchett's," Piccadilly, to " Old 
Ship," Brighton, and back 

Another team — J. F. Shute, T. W. 
Girling, R. Wilson, and A. E. Griffin 
— reduced first team's time by 4 
mins. 19| sees. .... 

Another team — E. R. and W. Scantle- 
bury, W. W. Arnott, and J. Blair . 

F. W. Shorland cycled from 
" Hatchett's " to " Old Ship " and 
back (" Geared Facile " bicycle, 
pneumatic tyres) .... 

S. F. Edge cycled from " Hatchett's " 
to " Old Ship " and back (safety 
bicycle, cushion tyres) . 

C. A. Smith cycled from " Hatchett's " 
to " Old Ship " (safety bicycle, 
pneumatic tyres) and back 

E. P. Moorhouse cycled (tricycle) from 
" Hatchett's " to " Old Ship " 

E. H. Cuthbertson walked from 
" Hatchett's " to " Old Ship " 
From Westminster Clock Tower . 

S. F. Edge cycled from " Hatchett's " 
to " Old Ship " and back 

E. Dance cycled to Brighton and back 

R. C. Nesbit cycled (high bicycle) to 
Brighton and back 

S. F. Edge cycled to Brighton and back 

A. E. Knight 

C. A. Smith 

S. F. Edge 

E. Dance ,, „ 

W. W. Robertson (tricycle) „ 

W. R. Toft 

C. G. Wridgway „ „ 

Miss Reynolds cycled to Brighton and 
back ...... 

Miss White cycled to Brighton and 
back ...... 

A. A. Chase, Brighton and back 

J. Parsley (tricycle) 

J. H. Herbert cycled backwards to 
Brighton ..... 

E. D. Smith and C. A. Greenwood 
(tandem) ..... 

W. Franks walked from south side of 
Westminster Bridge to Brighton 

O. G. Wridgway .... 

H. Green and W. Nelson (tandem) 

7 50 
3 56 
3 54 











7 2 50 
















































































April 10 

















Juno 30 














June 20 







1904, April 9. 

1905, July 19. 

1905, — . 

1906. Sept. 22. 

" Motor-car Day." A 6 h.p. Boll6e 
motor started from Hotel Metropole, 
London, at 11.30 a.m., and reached 
Brighton at 2.25 p.m. . 

Polytechnic Harriers' walk, West- 
minster Clock Tower to Brighton. 
E. Knott 

W. J. Neason cycled to Brighton and 
back ...... 

Miss M. Foster cycled from Hyde Park 
Comer to Brighton and back 

Richard Palmer cycled to Brighton and 
back ...... 

W. J. Neason cycled from London to 
Brighton and back 

P. Wheelock and G. J. FuUord 
(tandem) . . . . . 

L. Franks and G. Franks (tandem 
safety) . . . . . 

E. J. Steel cycled London to Brighton 
and back (unpaeed) 

P. F. A. Gomme, London to Brighton 
and back (tricycle, unpaced) 

South London Harriers' " go-as-you- 
please " running match, West- 
minster Clock Tower to Brighton. 
Won by F. D. Randall . 

H. Green cycled from London to 
Brighton and back (unpaced) 

H. Green cycled from London to 
Brighton and back (unpaced) 

Surrey Walking Club's match, West- 
minster Clock Tower to Brighton 
and back. J. Butler 

J. Butler walked from Westminster 
Clock Tower to Brighton 

Stock Exchange Walk, won by E. F. 
Broad ..... 

Running Match, Westminster Clock 
Tower to Brighton. Won by Len 
Hurst ...... 

Miss M. Foster cycled to Brighton and 
back (motor-paced) 

Surrey Walking Club's match, West- 
minster Clock Tower to Brighton 
and back. H. W. Horton 

P. Wheelock and G. Fulford (tandem 
safety) ..... 

A. C. Gray and H. L. Dixon (tandem 
safety, unpaced) .... 

Blackheath and Ranelagh Harriers, 
inter-club walk, Westminster Clock 
Tower to Brighton. T. E. Hammond 

R. Shirley, Polytechnic CO., cycled 
Brighton and back (unpaced) 

J. Parsley (tricycle) 

H. S. Price (tricycle, unpaced) . 

J. Butler walked to Brighton 

S. C. Paget and M. R. Mott (tandem 
safety, impaced) .... 

2 55 

8 56 


5 19 


6 45 


5 9 


5 6 


4 54 




6 23 


8 11 


6 58 


5 50 


5 30 


21 36 


8 43 


9 30 


6 32 

5 33 


20 31 


4 54 


5 17 


8 26 


5 22 

6 18 
6 53 
8 23 





5 9 20 





1906. — . 

1907, June 22. 




June 19. 

1913, — . 

H. Green (safety cycle, unpaced) 

R. Shirley 

L. Dralce (tricycle, unpaced) 

J. D. Daymond „ „ . • 

T. E. Hammond walked to Brighton 

and back ..... 
C. and A. Richards (tandem-safety, 

unpaced) ..... 
G. H. Briault and E. Ward (tandem 

safety, unpaced) .... 
G. H. Briault (tricycle, unpaced) 
T. E. Hammond walked to Brighton . 
H. L. Ross „ „ 

Harry Green cycled Brighton and back 

(unpaced) ..... 
L. S. Leake and G. H. Spencer 

(tandem tricycle, unpaced) 
Fredk. H. Grubb cycled (paced) 

Brighton and back 
E. H. and S. Hulbert (tandem tricycle, 

unpaced) ..... 
H. G. Cook (tricycle, unpaced) . 

NOTE. — The fastest L.B. & S.C.R. train, the 5 p.m. 
Pulman Express from London Bridge, reaches 
Brighton (51 miles) at 6.0 p.m. . . . . 

































We may now, somewhat belatedly, after recounting 
these varied annals of the way to Brighton, start along 
the road itself, coming from the south side of West- 
minster Bridge to Kennington. 

No one scanning the grey vista of the Kennington 
Road would, on sight, accuse Kennington of owning 
a past : but, as a sheer matter of fact, it is an historic 
place. It is the " Chenintun " of Domesday Book, 
and the Cyningtun or Koningtun — the King's town — 
of an even earUer time. It was indeed a royal manor 
belonging to Canute, and the site of the palace where 
his son, Hardicanute, died, mad drunk, in 1042. 
Edward the Third annexed it to his Duchy of Cornwall, 
and even yet, after the vicissitudes of nine hundred 
years, the Prince of Wales, as Duke of Cornwall, owns 
house property here. Kennington Park, too, has its 
own sombre romance, for it was an open common 
until 1851, and a favourite place of execution for 
Surrey malefactors. Here the minor prisoners among 
the Scottish rebels captured by the Duke of Cumberland 
in the '45 were executed, those of greater consideration 
being beheaded on Tower Hill. It is an odd coincidence 
that, among the lesser titles of " Butcher Cumberland " 
himself was that of Earl of Kennington. 

At this junction of roads, where the Kennington 
Road, the Kennington Park Road, the Camberwell 
New Road, and the Brixton Road, all pool their 
traffic, there stood, in times not so far removed but 
that some yet living can remember it, Kennington 
Gate, an important turnpike at any time, and one of 
very great traffic on Derby Day, when, I fear, the 
pikeman was freely bilked of his due at the hands of 
sportsmen, noble and ignoble. There is a view of 
this gate on such a day drawn by James Pollard, and 
published in 1839, which gives a very good idea of the 
amount of traffic and, incidentally, of the curious 
costumes of the period. You shall also find in the 
" Comic Almanack " for 1837 an illustration by 


George Cruikshank of this same place, one would say, 
although it is not mentioned by name, in which is an 
immense jostling crowd anxious to pass through, while 
the pikeman, having apparently been " cheeked " by 
the occupants of a passing vehicle, is vulgarly engaged, 
I grieve to state, in " taking a sight " at them. That 
is to say, he has, according to the poet, " Put his 
thumb unto his nose and spread his fingers out." 

Kennington Gate was swept away, with other purely 
Metropolitan turnpike gates, October 31st, 1865, and 
is now to be found in the yard of Clare's Depository 
at the crest of Brixton Hill. It was one of nine that 
barred this route from London to the sea in 1826. 
The others were at South End, Croydon ; Foxley 
Hatch, or Purley Gate, which stood near Purley 
Corner, by the twelfth milestone, until 1853 ; and 
Frenches, 19 miles 4 furlongs from London — that is 
to say, just before you come into Redhill streets. 
Leaving Redhill behind, another gate spanned the 
road at Salfords, below Earls wood Common, while 
others were situated at Horley, Ansty Cross, Stone- 
pound, one mile short of Clayton ; and at Preston, 
afterwards removed to Patcham.* 

Not the most charitable person could lay his hand 
upon his heart and declare, honestly, that the church 
of St. Mark, Kennington, which stands at this beginning 
of the Brixton Road, is other than extremely hideous. 
Fortunately, its pagan architecture, once fondly 
thought to revive the glories of old Greece, is largely 
screened from sight by the thriving trees of its church- 
yard, and so nervous wayfarers are spared something 
of the inevitable shock. 

• In 1829 there were throe additional gates : one at Crawley, 
another at Hand Cross, before you came to the " Red Lion," and 
one more at Slough Green. Meanwhile the Horloy gate on this 
route had disappeared. At a later period another gate was added, 
at Merstham, just past the " Feathers." On the other routes there 
were, of course, yet more gates — e.g., those of Sutton, Reigate, 
Wray Park, Woodhatch, Dale, and many more. 

Salfords gate was the last on the main Brighton Road. It 
remained until midnight, October 31st, 1881, when the Reigate 
Turnpilce Trust expired, after an existence of 126 years. Not until 
then did this most famous highway become free and open throughout 
its whole distance. 


The story of Kennington Church does not take us 
very far back, down the dim alleys of history, for it 
was built so recently as the first quarter of the 
nineteenth century, when it was thought possible to 
emulate the marble beauties of the Parthenon and 
other triumphs of classic architecture in plebeian 
brick and stone. Those materials, however, and the 
architects themselves, were found to be somewhat 
inferior to their models, and eventually the public 
taste became so outraged with the appalling ugliness 
of the pagan temples arising on every hand that at 
length the Gothic revival of the mid-nineteenth 
century set in. 

But if its history is not long, its site has a horrid 
kind of historic association, for the building stands on 
what was a portion of Kennington Common, the exact 
spot where the unhappy Scottish rebels were executed 
in 174.6, and where Jerry Abershawe, the highwayman, 
was hanged in 1795. The remains of the gibbet on 
which the bodies of some of his fellow knights of the 
road were exposed were actually found when the 
foundations for the church were being dug out. 

The origin of Kennington Church, like that of 
Brixton, is so singular that it is very well worth while 
to inquire into it. It was a direct outcome of the 
Napoleonic wars. England had been so long engaged 
in those European struggles, and was so wearied and 
impoverished by them, that Parliament could think 
of nothing better than to celebrate the peace of 1815 
by voting a million and a half of money to the clergy 
•as a " thank-offering." This sum took the shape of a 
church-building fund. Wages were low, work was 
scarce, and bread was so dear that the people were 
starving. That good paternal Parliament, therefore, 
when they asked for bread gave them stone and brick, 
and performed the heroic feat of picking their 
impoverished pockets as well. It was accomplished 
in this wise. There was that Lucky Bag, the million 
and a half sterling of the Thanksgiving Fund ; but 
it could not be dipped into unless you gave an equal 


sum to that you took out, and then expended the whole 
on })uilding churches. And yet it has been said that 
ParHanient has no sense of the ridiculous ! Why, it 
was the most stupendous of practical jokes ! 

Lambeth was at that time a suburban and a greatly 
expanding parish, and was one of those that accepted 
this offer, and took what came eventually to be called 
Half Price Churches. It gave a large order, and took 
four : those of Kennington, Waterloo, Brixton, and 
Norwood, all ferociously hideous, and costing £15,000 
apiece ; the Government granting one moiety and the 
other being raised by a parish rate on all, without 
distinction of creed. The Government also remitted 
the usual taxes on the building materials, and in some 
instances further helped the people to rejoice by 
imposing a compulsory rate of twopence in the pound, 
to pay the rector or vicar. All this did more to weaken 
the Church of England than even a century of 
scandalous inefficiency : 

Abuse a man, and he may brook it, 

But keep your hands out of his breeches pocket. 

The major part of these grievances was adjusted by 
the Act of 1868, abolishing all Church rates, excepting 
those levied under special Acts ; but the eyesores will 
not be redressed until the temples are pulled down and 

Brixton appears in Domesday as " Brixistan," 
which in later ages became " Brixtow " ; and the 
Brixton Road follows the line of a Roman way on 
which Streatham stood. Both the Domesday name 
of Brixton and the name of Streatham are significant, 
indicating their position on the stones and the street, 
i.e., the paved thoroughfare alluded to in " Brixton 
causeway," marked on old suburban maps. 

The Brixton Road, even down to the middle of the 
nineteenth century, was a pretty place. On the left- 
hand side, as you made for Streatham, ran the river 
Effra. It was a clear and sparkling stream, twelve 


feet wide, which, rising at Norwood, eventually found 
its way into the Thames at Vauxhall. Its course ran 
where the front gardens of the houses on that side 
of the road are now situated, and at that period every 
house was fronted by its little bridge ; but the 
unfortunate Effra has long since been thrust underground 
in a sewer-pipe, and the sole reminiscence of it to be 
seen is the name of Effra Road, beside Brixton Church. 

The " White Horse " public-house, where the 
omnibuses halt, was in those times a lonely inn, 
neighboured only by a farm ; but with the dawn of 
the nineteenth century a new suburb began to spring 
up, where Angell Road now stands, called " Angel 1 
Town," and then the houses of Brixton Road began 
to arise. It is curious to note that the last of the old 
watchmen's wooden boxes was standing in front of 
Claremont Lodge, 168, Brixton Road, until about 1875. 

There is little in the Lower Brixton Road that is 
reminiscent of the Regency, but a very great deal of 
early suburban comfort evident in the old mansions 
of the Rise and the Hill, built in days when by a 
" suburban villa " you did not mean a cheap house in 
a cheap suburban road, but — to speak in the language 
of auctioneers — a " commodious residence situate in 
its own ornamental grounds, replete with every 
convenience," or something in that eloquent style. 
For when you ascend gradually, past the Bon Marche, 
and come to the hill-top, you leave for awhile the shops 
and the continuous, conjoined houses, and arrive, past 
the transitional stage of semi-detachedness, at the 
wholly blest condition of splendid isolation in the rear 
of fences and carriage entrances, with gentility-balls 
on the gate-^posts, a circular lawn in front of the house, 
skirted by its gravel drive, and perhaps even a stone 
dog on either side of the doorway ! Solid comfort 
resides within those four-square walls, and reclines in 
saddle-bag armchairs, thinking complacently of big 
bank balances, all derived from wholesale dealing in 
the City, and now enjoyed, and added to, in the third 
and fourth generations ; for these solid houses were 


built a century ago, or thereby. They are not 
beautiful, nor indeed are they ugly. Built of good 
yellow stock brick, grown decorously neutral- tinted 
with age, and sparsely relieved, it may be, with stucco 
pilasters picked out with raised medallions or plaster 
wreaths. Supremely unimaginative, admirably free 
from tawdry affectations of Art, unquestionably 
permanent — and large. They are, indeed, of such 
spaciousness and commodious quality that an 
auctioneer who all his life long has been ascribing 
those characteristics to houses which do not possess 
them feels a vast despair possess his soul when it falls 
to his lot to professionally describe such an one. And 
yet I think few ever realise the scale of these villas 
and their grounds until the houses themselves are 
pulled down and the grounds laid out as building plots 
for what we now understand by " villas " — a fate that 
has lately befallen a few. When it is reaHsed that the 
site lately occupied by one of these staid mansions and 
its surrounding gardens will presently harbour thirty 
or forty little modem houses — why, then an unwonted 
respect is felt for it and its kind. 

Brixton Hill brings one up out of the valley of the 
Thames. The hideous church of Brixton stands on 
the crest of it, with the hulking monument of the 
Budd family, all scarabei and classic emblems of death, 
prominent at the angle of the roads — ^a memento mori, 
ever since the twenties, for travellers down the road. 

Among the mouldering tombstones, whose neglect 
proves that grief, as well as joy and everything else 
human, passes, is one in shape like a biscuit-box, to 
John Miles Hine, who died, aged seventeen, in 1824. 
A verse, plainly to be read by the wayfarer along the 
pavements of Brixton Hill, accompanies name and date : 

O Miles ! the modest, learned and sincere 
Will sigh for thee, whose ashes slumber here ; 
The youthful bard will pluck a floweret pale 
From this sad turf whene'er he reads tlie tale. 
That one so yoimg and lovely — died — and last. 
When the sun's vigour warms, or tempests rave. 
Shall come in summer's bloom and winter's blast, 
A Mother, to weep o'er this hopeless grave. 


An inscription on another side shows us that her 
weeping was ended in 1837, when she died, aged fifty- 
two ; and now there is no turf and no flowerets, and 
the tomb is neglected, and the cats make their midnight 
assignations on it when the electric trams have gone 
to bed and Brixton snores. 

On the right hajid side, at the summit of Brixton 
Hill, there still remains an old windmill. It is in 
Cornwall Road. True, the sails of its tall black tower 
are gone, and the wind-power that drove the machinery 
is now replaced by a gas-engine ; but in the okl 
building corn is yet ground, as it has been since in 
1816 John Ashby, the Quaker grandfather of the 
present millers, Messrs. Joshua & Bernard Ashby, 
built that tower. Here, unexpectedly,^ amid typical 
modern suburban developments, you enter an old- 
world yard, with barns, stables and cottage, pretty 
much the same as they were over a hundred years ago, 
when the mill first arose on this hill-top, and London 
seemed far away. 

And so to Streatham, once rightly " Streatham, 
Surrey," in the postal address, but now merely 
" Streatham, S.W." A world of significance lies in 
that apparently simple change, which means that it 
is now in the London Postal District. Even so early 
as 1850 we read in Brayley's " History of Surrey " 
that " the village of Streatham is formed by an almost 
continuous range of villas and other respectable 
dwellings." Respectable ! I should think so, indeed ! 
Conceive the almost impious inadequacy of calling the 
Streatham Hill mansions of City magnates 
" respectable." As well might one style the Alps 
" pretty " ! 

But this spot was not always of such respectability, 
for about 1730 there stood a gibbet on Streatham Hill, 
by the fifth milestone, and from it hung in chains the 
body of one " Jack Gutteridge," a highwayman duly 
executed for robbing and murdering a gentleman's 
servant here. The place was long afterwards known 
as " Jack Gutteridge's Gate." 


Streatham — the Ham (that is to say the home, or 
the hamlet) on the Street — emphatically in those 
Saxon times when it first obtained its name, the Street 
— was probably so named to distinguish it from some 
other settlement situated in the mud. In that era, 
when hard roads were few, a paved way could be, and 
very often was, made to stand godfather to a place, 
and thus we find so many Streatleys, Stratfords, 
Strattons, Streets, and Stroods on the map. Those 
" streets " were Roman roads. The particular " street " 
on which Streatham stood seems to have been a Roman 
road which came up from the coast by Clayton, St. 
John's Common, Godstone, and Caterham, a branch 
of the road to PoHus Adurni, the Old Shoreham of 
to-day. Portions of it were discovered in 1780, on 
St. John's Common, when the Brighton turnpike road 
through that place was under construction. It was 
from 18 to 20 feet wide, and composed of a bed of 
flints, grouted together, 8 inches thick. Narrowly 
avoiding Croydon, it reached Streatham by way of 
Waddon (where there is one of the many " Cold 
Harbours " associated so intimately with Roman 
roads) and joined the present Brighton Road midway 
between Croydon and Thornton Heath Pond, at what 
used to be Broad Green. 

There are no Roman remains at twentieth-century 
Streatham, and there are very few even of the 
eighteenth century. The suburbs have absorbed the 
village, and Dr. Johnson himself and Thrale Place are 
only memories. " All flesh i^ grass," said the Preacher, 
and therefore Dr. Johnson, whose bulky figure we may 
put at the equivalent of a truss of hay, is of course but 
an historic name ; but bricks and mortar last 
immeasurably longer than those who rear them, and 
his haunts might have been still extant but for the 
tragical nearness of Streatham to London and that 
" ripeness " of land for building which has abolished 
many a pleasant and an historic spot. 

But while the broad Common of Streatham remains 
unfenced, the place will keep a vestige of its old-time 


character of roadside village. A good deal earlier than 
Dr. Samuel Johnson's visits to Streatham and Thrale 
Place, the village had quite a rosy chance of becoming 
another Tunbridge Wells or Cheltenham, for in the 
early j'^ears of the eighteenth century it became known 
as a Spa, and real and imaginary invalids flocked to 
drink the disagreeable waters issuing from what 
quaint old Aubrey calls the " sower and weeping 
ground " by the Common. Whether the waters were 
too nasty, or not nasty enough, does not appear, but 
it is certain that the rivalry of Streatham to those 
other Spas was neither long-continued nor serious. 

Streatham is content to forget its waters, but the 
memory of Dr. Johnson will not be dropped, for if it 
were, no one knows to what quarter Streatham could 
turn for any history or traditions at all. As it is, the 
mind's-eye picture is cherished of that grumbling, 
unwieldy figure coming down from London to Thrale's 
house, to be lionised and indulged, and in return to 
give Mrs. Thrale a reflected glory. The lion had the 
manners of a bear, and, like a dancing bear, performed 
clumsy evolutions for buns and cakes ; but he had a 
heart as tender as a child's, and a simple vanity as 
engaging, beneath that unpromising exterior and those 
pompous ways. Wig awry and singed in front from 
his short-sighted porings over the midnight oil, clothes 
shabby, and linen that journeyed only at long intervals to 
the wash-tub, his was not the aspect of a carpet-knight, 
and those he met at the literary-artistic tea-table of 
Thrale Place murmured that he was an "original." 

He met a brilliant company over those teacups : 
Reynolds and Garrick, and Fanny Burney — the 
readiest hand at the " management " of one so difficult 
and intractable— and many lesser lights, and partook 
there of innumerable cups of tea, dispensed at that 
hospitable board by Mrs. Thrale. That historic tea- 
pot is still extant, and has a capacity of three quarts ; 
specially chosen, doubtless, in view of the Doctor's 
visits. Ye gods ! what floods of Bohea were consumed 
within that house in Thrale Park 1 


Tliey even seated the studious Johnson on horseback 
and took him hunting ; and, strange to say, he does 
not merely seem to have only just saved himself from 
falling off, but is said to have acquitted himself as well 
as any country squire on that notable occasion. 

But all things have an end, and the day was to come 
when Johnson should bid a last farewell to Streatham. 
He had broken with the widowed Mrs. Thrale on the 
subject of her marriage with Piozzi, and he could no 
longer bear to see the place. So, in one endearing 
touch of sentiment, he gave it good-bye, as his diary 
records : 

" Sunday, went "to church at Streatham. Templo 
valedixi cum osculo.'''' Thus, kissing the old porch of 
St. Leonard's, the lexicographer departed with heavy 
heart. Two years later he died. 

This Church of St. Leonard still contains the Latin 
epitaph he wrote to commemorate the easy virtues of 
his friend Henry Thrale, who died in 1781, but altera- 
tions and restorations have changed almost all else. 
It is, in truth, a dreadful example, externally, of the 
Early Compo Period, and internally of the Late 
Churchwarden, or Galleried, Style. 

It is curious to note the learned Doctor's indignation 
when asked to write an English epitaph for setting up 
in Westminster Abbey. The great authority on the 
English language, the compiler of that monumental 
dictionary, exclaimed that he would not desecrate its 
walls with an inscription in his own tongue. Thus 
the pedant ! 

There is one Latin epitaph at Streatham that reads 
curiously. It is on a tablet by Richard Westmacott 
to Frederick Howard, who in pugna W aterlooensi 
occiso. The battle of Waterloo looks strange in that 

But Latin is frequent here, and free. The tablets 
that jostle one another down the aisles are abounding 
in that tongue, and the little brass to an ecclesiastic, 
nailed upon the woodwork toward the west end of the 
north aisle, is not free from it. So the shade of the 


Doctor, if ever it revisits these scenes, might well be 
satisfied with the quantity, although it is not incon- 
ceivable he would cavil at the quality. ' 


Thrale Park has gone the way of all suburban 
estates in these days of the speculative builder. The 
house was pulled down so long ago as 1863, and its 
lands laid out in building plots. Lysons, writing of 
its demesne in 1792, says that " Adjoining the hou/e 
is an enclo/ure of about 100 acres, /urroundcd with a 
/hrubbery and gravel-walk of nearly two miles in 
circumference." Trim villas and a suburban church 
now occupy the spot, and the memory of the house 
itself has faded away. Save for its size, the house 
made no brave show, being merely one of many 
hundreds of mansions built in the seventeenth century, 
of a debased classic type. 

Streatham Common and Thornton Heath were still, 
in Johnston's time, and indeed for long after, good 
places for the highwaymen and for the Dark Lurk of 
the less picturesque, but infinitely more dangerous, 
foot-pad. Law-abiding people did not care to travel 
them after nightfall, and when compelled to do so 
went escorted and armed. Ogilby, in his " Britannia " 
of 1675, showed the pictures of a gallows on the summit 
of Brixton Hill and another (a very large one) at 
Thornton Heath ; and according to a later editor, who 
issued an " Ogilby Improv'd " in 1731, they still 
decorated the wayside. They were no doubt retained 
for some time longer, in the hope of affording a warning 
to those who robbed upon the highway. 

At Norbury railway station the railway crosses over 
the road, and eminently respectable suburbs occupy 
that wayside where the foot-pads used to await the 
timorous traveller. Trim villas rise in hundreds, and 
where the extra large and permanent gallows stood, 


like a football goal, at what used to be a horse-pond, 
there is to-day the prettily-planted garden and pond 
of Thornton Heath, with a Jubilee fountain which 
has in later years been persuaded to play. 

Midway between Norbury and Thornton Heath 
stands, or stood, Norbury Hall, the delightful park 
and mansion where J. W. Hobbs, ex-Mayor of Croydon, 
resided until he was convicted of forgery at the 
Central Criminal Court in March, 1893, and sentenced 
to twelve years penal servitude. " T 180," as he was 
known when a convict, was released on licence on 
January 18th, 1898, and returned to his country-seat. 
Meanwhile, the Congregational Chapel he had presented 
to that sect was paid for, to remove the stigma of being 
his gift ; just as the Communion-service presented to 
St. Paul's Cathedral by the company-promoting Hooley 
was returned when his bankruptcy scandalised 
commercial circles. 

The estate of Norbury Hall has since T 180's release 
become " ripe for building," and the mansion, the lake, 
and the beautiful grounds have been " developed " 
away. Soon all memory of the romantic spot will 
have faded. 

Prominently over the sea of roofs in the valley, and 
above the white hillside villas of Sydenham and 
Gipsy Hill, rise the towers and the long body of the 
Crystal Palace ; that bane and obsession of most 
view-points in South London, " for ever spoiling the 
view in all its compass," as Ruskin truly says in 
" Praeterita." 

I do not like the Crystal Palace. The atmosphere 
of the building is stuffily reminiscent of half a century's 
stale teas and buttered toast, and the views of it, near 
or distant, are very creepily and awfully like the 
dreadful engravings after 5lartin, the painter of such 
scriptural scenes as " Belshazzar's Feast " and horribly- 
conceived apocalyptic subjects from Revelation. 

At Thornton Heath — where there has been nothing 
in the nature of a heath for at least eighty years past — 
the electric trams of Croydon begin, and take you 


through North End into and through Croydon town, 
along a continuous Une of houses. " Broad Green " 
once stood by the wayside, but nowadays the sole 
trace of it is the street called Broad Green Avenue. 
At Thornton Heath, however, there is just one little 
vestige of the past left, in " Colliers' Water Lane." 
The old farmhouse of Colliers' Water, reputed haunt 
of the phenomenally ubiquitous Dick Turpin, was 
demolished in 1897. Turpin probably never knew it, 
and the secret staircase it possessed was no doubt 
intended to hide fugitives much more respectable than 

The name of that lane is now the onl}^ reminder of 
the time when Croydon was a veritable Black Country. 

The " colliers of Croydon," whose black trade gave 
such employment to seventeenth-century wits, had 
no connection with what our ancestors of very recent 
times still called " sea-coal " — that is to say, coal 
shipped from Newcastle and brought round by water, 
in days before railways. The Croydon coal was 
charcoal, made from the wood of the dense forests 
that once overspread the counties of Surrey and 
Sussex, and was supplied very largely to London from 
the fifteenth century down to the beginning of the 

Grimes, the collier of Croydon, first made the 
Croydon colliers famous. We are not to suppose that 
his name was really Grimes : that was probably a 
part of the wit alreadj' hinted at. He was a master 
collier, who in the time of Edward the Sixth made 
charcoal on so large a scale that the smoke and the 
grime of it became offensive to his Grace the Archbishop 
of Canterbury in his palace of Croydon, who made an 
unsuccessful attempt to abolish the kilns. I think we 
may sympathise with his Grace and his soiled lawn- 

We first find Croydon mentioned in a.d. 962, when 
it was " Crogdoene." In Domesday Book it is 
" Croindene." Whether the name means " crooked 
vale," " chalk vale," or " town of the cross," I will not 


pretend to say, and he would be rash who did. The 
aneient history of the place is bound up with the 
archbishojiric of Canterbury, for the manor was given 
by the Conqueror to Lanfranc, who is supposed to 
have been the founder of the palaee, which still stands 
next the parish church, and was a residence of the 
Primate until 1750. 

By that time Croydon had begun to grow, and not 
only had the old buildings become inconvenient, but 
a population surrounded those dignified churchmen, 
who, after the manner of archbishops, retired to a more 
secluded home. They not only flew from contact with 
the people, whose spiritual needs might surely have 
anchored them to the spot, but by the promotion of 
the Enclosure Act of 1797 they robbed the people of 
the far-spreading common lands in the parish. 
Croydon by that time numbered between five and 
six thousand inhabitants, and was thought quite a 
considerable place. A hundred and ten years have 
added a hundred and twenty-five thousand more to 
that considerable population, and still Croydon grows. 

In those times the woodlands closely encircled the 
little town. In 1620 they came up to the parish 
church and the palace, which was then said to be a 
" very obscure and darke place." Archbishop Abbot 
" expounded " it by felling the timber. It was in 
those times surrounded by a moat, fed by the head- 
spring of the Wandle ; "but the moat is gone, and the 
first few yards of the Wandle are nowadays made to 
flow underground. 

The explorer of the Brighton Road who comes, by 
whatever method of progression he pleases, into 
Croydon, finds its busy centre at what is still called 
North End. The name survives long after the 
circumstances that conferred it have vanished into 
the limbo of forgotten things. It was the North end 
of the town, and here, on what was then a country 
site, the good Archbishop Whitgift founded his 
Hospital of the Holy Trinity in 1593. It still stands, 
although sorely threatened in these last few years ; 


but it is now the one quiet and unassuming spot in a 
narrow, a busy, and a noisy street. Fronting the main 
thoroughfare, it blocks " improvement " ; occupying 
a site grown so valuable, its destruction, and the sale 
of the ground for building upon, would immensely 
profit the good Whitgift's noble charity. What would 
Whitgift himself do ? When we have advanced still 
farther into the Unknown and can communicate with 
the sane among the departed, instead of the idiot 
spirits who can do nothing better than levitate chairs 
and tables, rap silly messages, and play monkey- 
tricks — when we can ring up whom we please at the 
Paradise or the Inferno Exchange, as the case may be, 
we shall be able to ascertain the will of Pious 
Benefactor.'', and much bitterness will cease out of the 

Meanwhile the old building for the time survives, 
and its name, " The Hospital of the Holy Trinity," 
inscribed high up on the wall, seems strange and 
reverend amid the showy shop-signs of a latter-day 

There is, of course, no reason why, if widening is to 
take place, the opposite side of the street should not 
be set back, and, indeed, any one standing in that 
street will readily perceive it to be that side which 
should be demolished, to make a straighter and a 
broader thoroughfare. It is therefore quite evident 
that the agitation for demolishing the Hospital 
is unreal and artificial, and only prompted by 
greed for the site. 

It is a solitude amid the throng, remarkable in the 
collegiate character of its walls of dark and aged red 
brick, pierced only by the doorway and as jealously 
as possible by the few mullioned windows. Once 
within the outer portal, ornamented overhead with 
the arms of the See of Canterbury and eloquent with 
the motto Qui dat pauperi non indigehit, the stranger 
has entered from a striving into a calm and equable 
world. It is, as old Aubrey quaintly puts it, "a 
handsome edifice, erected in the manner of a college, 


by the Right Reverend Father in God, John Whitgift, 
late Archbishop of Canterbury." The dainty quad- 
rangle, set about with grass lawns and bright flowers, 
is formed on three sides by tiny houses of two floors, 
where dwell the poor brothers and sisters of this old 
foundation : twenty brothers and sixteen sisters, who, 
beside lodging, receive each £40 and £30 a year 
respectively. They enjoy all the advantages of the 
Hospital so long as of good behaviour, but " obstinate 
heresye, sorccrye, any ki nde of charmmynge, or 
witchcrafte " are punished by the statutes with 

The fourth side of the quadrangle is occupied by 
the Hall, the Warden's rooms, and the Chapel, all in 
very much the same condition as at their building. 
The old oak table in the Hall is dated 1614, and much 
of the stained glass is of sixteenth century date. 

But it is in the Warden's rooms, above, that the 
eye is feasted with old woodwork, ancient panelling, 
black with lapse of time, quaint muniment chests, 
curious records, and the like. These were the rooms 
specially reserved for his personal use during his 
lifetime by the pious Archbishop Whitgift. 

Here is a case exhibiting the original titles to the 
lands on which the Hospital is built, and with which 
it is endowed ; formidable sheets of ' parchment, 
bearing many seals, and, what does duty for one, a 
gold angel of Edward VI. 

These are ideal rooms ; rooms which delight with 
their unspoiled sixteenth-century air. The sun streams 
through the western windows over their deep 
embrasures, lighting up so finely the darksome wood- 
work into patches of brilliance that there must be 
those who envy the Warden his lodging, so perfect a 
survival of more spacious days. 

A little chapel duly completes the Hospital, and here 
is not pomp of carving nor vanity of blazoning, for 
the good Archbishop, mindful of economy, would none 
of these. The seats and benches are contemporary 
with the building, and are rough-hewn. On the 



western wall hangs the founder's portrait, black- 
framed and mellow, rescued from the boys of the 

jioly Qinly 

^ ^^.- % 


Whitgift schools ere quite destroyed, and on the 
other walls are the portrait of a lady, supposed to be 


the Archbishop's niece, and a ghastly representation 
of Death as a skeleton digging a grave. But all these 
things are seen but dimly, for the light is very feeble. 


The High Street of Croydon really is high, for it 
occupies a ridge and looks down on the right hand on 
the Old Town and the valley of the Wandle, or 
" Wandel." The centre of Croydon has, in fact, been 
removed from down below, where the church and 
palace first arose, on the line of the old Roman road, 
to this ridge, where within the historic period the 
High Street was only a bridle-path avoiding the little 
town in the valley. 

The High Street, incidentally the Brighton Road as 
well, is nowadays a very modern and commercial- 
looking thoroughfare, and owes that appearance, and 
its comparative width, to the works effected under 
the Croydon Improvement Act of 1890. Already 
Croydon, given a Mayor and Town Council in 1883, 
had grown so greatly that the narrow street was 
incapable of accommodating the traffic ; while the 
low-lying, and in other senses low, quarter of Market 
Street and Middle Row offended the dignity and self- 
respect of the new-born Corporation. The Town Hall 
stood at that time in the High Street : a curious 
example of bastard classic architecture, built in 1808. 
Near by was the " Greyhound," an old coaching and 
posting inn, with one of those picturesque gallows signs 
straddling across the street, of which those of the 
" George " at Crawley and the " Greyhound " at 
Sutton are surviving examples. That of the " Cock " 
at Sutton disappeared in 1898, and the similar signs 
of the " Crown," opposite the Whitgift Hospital, and 
of the " King's Arms " vanished many years ago. 

The " Greyhound " was the principal inn of Croydon 
in the old times. The first mention of it is found in 


1563, the parish register of that year containing the 
entry, " Nicholas Vode (Wood) the son of the good 
wyfe of the grewond was buryed the xxix day of 
January." The voluminous John Taylor mentions 
it in 1624 as one of the two Croydon inns, and it was 
the headquarters of General Fairfax in 1645, when 
Cromwell vehemently disputed with him under its 
roof on the conduct of the campaign, urging more 
severe measures. 

Following upon the alteration, the " Greyhound " 
was rebuilt. Its gallows sign disapj^eared at the same 
time, when a curious point arose respecting the post 
supporting it on the opposite pavement. Firected in 
the easy-going times when such a matter was nothing 
more than a little friendly and neighbourly concession, 
the square foot of ground it occupied had by lapse of 
time become freehold property, and as such it was duly 
scheduled and purchased by the Improvements 
Committee. A sum of £400 was claimed for freehold 
and loss of advertisement, and eventually £350 was paid. 

I suppose there can be no two opinions about the 
slums cleared away under that Improvement Act ; 
but they were very picturesque, if also very dirty 
and tumble-down : all nodding gables, cobblestoned 
roads, and winding ways. I sorrow, in the artistic way, 
for those slums, and in the literary way for a house swept 
away at the same time, sentimentally associated with 
John Ruskin. It was the inn kept by his maternal 
grandmother, and is referred to in " Pra?terita " : 

" . . . Of my father's ancestors I know nothing, 
nor of my mother's more than that my maternal 
grandmother was the landlady of the ' Old King's 
Head ' in Market Street, • Croydon ; and I wish she 
were alive again, and I could paint her Simone Memmi's 
' King's Head ' for a sign." And he adds : " Mean- 
time my aunt had remained in Croydon and married 
a baker. . . . My aunt lived in the little house still 
standing — or which was so four months ago* — 

♦ Preface to " Prseterita," dated May 10th, 1885. 


the fasiiionablest in Market Street, having actually 
two windows over the shop, in the second story " (sic). 

There are slums at Croydon even now, for Croydon 
is a highly civilised progressive place, and slums and 
slum populations are the exclusive products of civilisa- 
tion and progress, and a very severe indictment of 
them. But they are new slums ; those poverty- 
stricken districts created ad hoc, which seem more 
hopeless than the ancient purlieus, and appear to be 
as inevitable to and as inseparable from modern great 
towns as a hem to a handkerchief. 

The old quarter of Croydon began to fall into the 
slum condition at about the period of Croydon's first 
expansion, when the ol ttoWol impinged too closely 
upon the archiepiscopal precincts, and their Graces, 
neglecting their ob^'^ious duty in the manner customary 
to Graces spiritual and temporal, retired to the 
congenial privacy of Addington. 

Here stands the magnificent parish church of 
Croydon ; its noble tower of the Perpendicular period, 
its body of the same style, but a restoration, after the 
melancholy havoc caused by the great fire of 1867. It 
is one of the few really satisfactory works of Sir 
Gilbert Scott ; successful because he was obliged to 
forget his own particular fads and to reproduce exactly 
what had been destroyed. Another marvellous replica 
is the elaborate monument of Archbishop Whitgift, 
copied exactly from pictures of that utterly destroyed 
in the fire. Archbishop Sheldon's monument, however, 
still remains in its mutilated condition, with a scarred 
and horrible face calculated to afflict the nervous and 
to be remembered in their dreams. 

The vicars of Croydon have in the long past been 
a varied kind. The Reverend William Clewer, who 
held the living from 1660 until 1684, when he was 
ejected, was a " smiter," an extortioner, and a 
criminal ; but Roland Phillips, a predecessor by some 
two hundred years, was something of a seer. Preaching 
in 1497, he declared that " we " (the Roman Catholics) 
" must root out printing, or printing will root out us." 


Already, in the twenty years of its existence, it had 
undermined superstition, and was presently to root 
out the priests, even as he foresaw. 

Unquestionably the sight best worth seeing in 
Croydon is that next-door neighbour of the church, 
the Archbishop's Palace. Comparatively few are those 
who see it, because it is just a little way off the road 
and is private property and shown only by favour and 
courtesy. When the Archbishops deserted the place 
it was sold under the Act of Parliament of 1780 and 
became the factory of a calico-printer and a laundr3^ 
Some portions were demolished, the moat was filled 
up, the " minnows and the springs of Wandel " of 
which lluskin speaks, were moved on, and mean little 
streets quartered the ground immediately adjoining. 
But, although all those facts are very grim and grey, 
it remains true that the old palace is a place very well 
worth seeing. 

It was again sold in 1887, and purchased by the 
Duke of Newcastle, who made it over to the so-called 
" Kilburn Sisters," who maintain it as a girls' school. 
I do not know, nor seek to inquire, by what right, or 
with what object, the " Sisters " who conduct the 
school affect the dress of Roman Catholics, while 
professing the tenets of the Church of England ; but 
under their rule the historic building has been well 
treated, and the chapel and other portions repaired, 
with every care for their interesting antiquities, under 
the eyes of expert and jealous anti-restorers. The 
Great Hall, chief feature of the place, still maintains 
its fifteenth century chestnut hammerbeam roof and 
armorial corbels ; the Long Gallery, where Queen 
Elizabeth danced, the State bedroom where she slept, 
the Guard Room, quarters of the Archbishops' body- 
guard, are all existing ; and the Chapel, with oaken 
bench-ends bearing the sculptured arms of Laud, of 
Juxon, and others, and the Archbishops' pew, has 
lately been brought back to decent condition. Here, 
too, is the exquisite oaken gallery at the western end, 
known as " Queen EUzabeth's Pew." 


That imperious queen and indefatigable tourist 
paid several visits to Croydon Palace, and her 
characteristic insolence and freedom of speech were 
let loose upon the unoffending wife of Archbishop 
Parker when she took her leave. " Madam," she said, 
" I may not call you ; mistress I am ashamed to call 
you ; and so I know not what to call you ; but, 
however, I thank you," It seems evident that the 
daughter of Henry the Eighth had, despite her 
Protestantism, an historic preference for a celibate 


Down amid what remains of the old town is a street 
oddly named " Pump Pail." Its strange name causes 
many a visit of curiosity, but it is a common-place 
street, and contains neither pail nor pump, and 
nothing more romantic than a tin tabernacle. But 
this, it appears, is not an instance of things not being 
what they seem, for in the good old days before the 
modern water-supply, one of the parish pumps stood 
here, and from it a woman suppUed a house-to-house 
delivery of water in pails. The explanation seems too 
obvious to be true, and sure enough, a variant kicks 
the " pail " over, and tells us that it is properly Pump 
Pale, the Place of the Pump, " pale " being an ancient 
word, much used in old law-books to indicate a district, 
limit of jurisdiction, and so forth. 

The modern side of all these things is best exemplified 
by the beautiful Town Hall which Croydon has 
provided for itself, in place of the ugly old building, 
demolished in 1893. It is a noble building, and stands 
on a site worthy of it, with broad approaches that 
permit good views, without which the best of buildings 
is designed in vain. It marks the starting point of 
the history of modern Croydon, and is a far cry from 
the old building of the bygone Local Board days, when 


the traffic of the High Street was regulated — or 
supposed to be regulated — by the Beadle, and the 
rates were low, and Croydon was a country town, and 
everything was dull and humdrum. It was a little 
unfortunate that the first Mayor of Croydon and 
Liberal Member of Parliament for Tamworth, that 
highly imaginative financier Jabez Spencer Balfour, 
should have been wanted by the police, a fugitive from 
justice brought back from the Argentine, and a 
criminal convicted of fraud as a company promoter ; 
but accidents will happen, and the Town Council did 
its best, by turning his portrait face to the wall, and by 
subsequently (as it is reported) losing it. He was 
sent in 1895, a little belatedly, to fourteen years' 
penal servitude, and the victims of his " Liberator " 
frauds went into the workhouse for the most part, or 
died. He ceased to be V 460 on release on licence, 
and became again Jabez Spencer Balfour, and so died, 

The Liberal Party in the Government had, over 
Jabez Balfour, one of its several narrow escapes from 
complete moral ruin ; for Balfour was on extremely 
friendly terms with the members of Gladstone's 
ministry, 1892-94, and was within an ace of being 
given a Cabinet post. Let us pause to consider the 
odd affinity between Jabez Balfour and Trebitsch 
Lincoln and Liberal politics. 

The Town Hall — ahem ! Municipal Buildings — 
stands on the site of the disused and abolished Central 
Croydon station, and the neighbourhood of it is 
glimpsed afar off by the fine tower, 170 ft. in height. 
All the departments of the Corporation are housed 
under one roof, including the fine Public Library and 
its beautiful feature, the Braithwaite Hall. The 
Town Council is housed in that municipal splendour 
without which no civic body can nowadays deliberate 
in comfort, and even the vestibule is worthy of a 
palace. I take the following " official " description of it. 

" On either side of the vestibule are rooms for 
Porter and telephone. Beyond are the hall and 



principal staircase, the shafts of the columns and 
the pilasters of which are of a Spanish marble, a sort 


of jasper, called Rose d 'Andalusia ; the bases and 
skirtings are of grand antique. The capitals, architrave. 


cornices, handrails, etc., are of red Verona marble ; 
the balusters, wall-lining and frieze of the entablature 
of alabaster, and the dado of the ground floor is 
gris-rouge marble. The flooring is of Roman mosaic 
of various marbles, purposely kept simple in design 
and quiet in colouring. One of the windows has the 
arms of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, and the other 
the Borough arms, in stained glass. Above the dado 
at the first floor level the walls are painted a delicate 
green tint, relieved by a powdering of C's and Civic 
Crowns. The doors and their surroundings are of 
walnut wood." 

Very beautiful indeed. Now let us see the home 
of one of Croydon's poorer ratepayers : 

On one side of the hall are two rooms, called 
respectively the parlour and the kitchen. Beyond 
is the scullery. The walls of the staircase are co\'ered 
with a sort of plaster called stucco, but closely 
resembling road-scrapings : the skirtings are of pitch- 
pine, the balusters of the same material. The floorings 
are of deal. The roof lets in the rain. Oiie of the 
windows is broken and stuffed with rags, the others 
are cracked. The walls are stained a delicate green 
tint relieved by a film of blue mould, owing to lack 
of a damp-course. None of the windows close properly, 
the flues smoke into the rooms instead of out of the 
chimney-pots, the doors jam, and the surroundings 
are wretched beyond description. 

Electric tramways now conduct along the Brighton 
Road to the uttermost end of the great modern borough 
of Croydon, at Purley Corner. Here the explorer 
begins to perceive, despite the densely packed houses, 
that he is in that " Croydene," or crooked vale, of 
Saxon times from which, we are told, Croydon takes 
its name ; and he can see also that nature, and not 
man, ordained in the first instance the position and 
direction of what is now the road to Brighton, in the 
bottom, alongside where the Bourne once flowed, 
inside the fence of Haling Park. It is, in fact, the 
site of a prehistoric track which led the most easy 


ways across the bleak downs, severally through 
Smitham Bottom and Caterham. 

Beside that stream ran from 1805 until about 1840 the 
rails of that long-forgotten pioneer of railways in these 
parts, the " Surrey Iron Railway." This was a primi- 
tive line constructed for the purpose of affording cheap 
and quick transport for coals, bricks, and other heavy 
goods, originally between Wandsworth and Croydon, 
but extended in 1805 to Merstham, where quarries of 
limestone and beds of Fuller's earth are situated. 

This railway was the outcome of a project first 
mooted in 1799, for a canal from Wandsworth to 
Croydon. It was abandoned because of the injury 
that might have been caused to the wharves and 
factories already existing numerously along the course 
of the Wandle, and a railway substituted. The Act 
of Parliament was obtained in 1800, and the line 
constructed to Croydon in the following year, at a 
cost of about £27,000. It was not a railway in the 
modern sense, and the haulage was by horses, who 
dragged the clumsy waggons along at the rate of about 
four miles an hour. The rails, fixed upon stone blocks, 
were quite different from those of modern railways 
or tramways, being just lengths of angle-iron into 
which the wheels of the waggons fitted : [_ J- 
Thus, in contradistinction from all other railway or 
tramway practice, the flanges were not on the 
wheels, but on the rails themselves. The very 
frugal object of this was to enable the waggons 
to travel on ordinary roads, if necessity arose. 

From the point where the Wandle flows into the 
Thames, at Wandsworth, along the levels past 
Earlsfield and Garratt, the railway went in double 
track ; continuing by Merton Abbey, Mitcham (where 
the present lane called " Tramway Path " marks its 
course) and across Mitcham Common into Croydon by 
way of what is now called Church Street, but was 
then known as " Iron Road." Thence along South- 
bridge Lane and the course of the Bourne, it was 
continued to Purley, whence it climbed Smitham 


Bottom and ran along the left-hand side of the Brighton 
Road in a cutting now partly obliterated by the deeper 
cutting of the South Eastern line. The ideas of those 
old projectors were magnificent, for they cherished a 
scheme of extending to Portsmouth ; but the enter- 
prise was never a financial success, and that dream was 
not realised. Nearly all traces of the old railway are 

The marvel-mongers who derive the name of Waddon 
from " Woden " find that Haling comes from the 
Anglo-Saxon " halig," or holy ; and therefrom have 
built up an imaginary picture of ancient heathen rites 
celebrated here. The best we can say for those 
theories is that they may be correct or they may not. 
Of evidence there is, of course, none whatever ; and 
certainly it is to be feared that the inhabitants of 
Croydon care not one rap about it ; nor even know — 
or knowing, are not impressed — that here, in 1624, 
died that great Lord High Admiral of England, 
Howard of Effingham. It is much more real to them 
that the tramcars are twopence all the way. 

At the beginning of Haling Park, immediately 
beyond the " Swan and Sugarloaf," the Croydon toll- 
gate barred the road until 1865. Beyond it, all was 
open country. It is a very different tale to-day, now 
the stark chalk downs of HaUng and Smitham are being 
covered with houses, and the once-familiar great 
white scar of Haling Chalk Pit is being screened behind 
newly raised roofs and chimney-pots. 

The beginning of Purley is marked by a number of 
prominent i:)ublic-houses, testifying to the magnificent 
thirst of the new suburb. Yoti come past the " Swan 
and Sugarloaf " to the " Windsor Castle," the " Purley 
Arms," the " Red Deer," and the " Royal Oak " ; and 
just beyond, round the corner, is the " Red Lion." 
At the " Royal Oak " a very disreputable and stony 
road goes off to the left. It looks like, and is, a derelict 
highway : once the main road to Godstone and East 
Grinstead, but now ending obscurely in a miserable 
modern settlement near the newly built station of 


Purley Oaks, so called by the Brighton Railway 
Company to distinguish it from the older Purley station 
— ex "Caterham Junction" — of the South Eastern line. 

It was here, at Purley House, or Purley Bury as 
it is properly styled, close by the few poor scrubby 
and battered remains of the once noble woodland of 
Purley Oaks, that John Home Tooke, contentious 
partisan and stolid begetter of seditious tracts, lived 
— when, indeed, he was not detained within the four 
walls of some prison for political offences. 

Tooke, whose real name was Home, was born in 
1736, the son of a poulterer. At twenty-four years 
of age he became a clergyman, and was appointed to 
the living of New Brentford, which he held until 1773, 
when, clearly seeing how grievously he had missed his 
vocation, he studied for the Bar. Thereafter his life 
was one long series of battles, hotly contested in 
Parliament, in newspapers, books and pamphlets, and 
on platforms. He was in general a wrong-headed, as 
well as a hot-headed, politician ; but he was sane 
enough to oppose the American War when King and 
Government were so mad as to provoke and continue 
it. Describing the Americans killed and wounded 
by the troops at Lexington and Concord as " murdered," 
he was the victim of a Government prosecution for 
libel, and was imprisoned for twelve months and fined 
£200. He took — no ! that will not do — he " assumed " 
the name of Tooke in 1782, in compliment to his friend 
William Tooke, who then resided here in this delightful 
old country house of Purley. The idea seems to have 
been for them to live together in amity, and that 
William Tooke, the elder of the two, should leave his 
property to his friend. But quarrels arose long before 
that, and Home at his friend's death received only 
£500, while other disputed points arose, leading to 
bitter law-suits. 

In 1801 he was Member of Parliament for Old 
Saruni ; but how he reconciled the representation of 
that rottenest of rotten boroughs with his profession 
of reforming Whig does not appear. 


He was a many-sided man, of fieree energies and 
strong prejudices, but a scholar. While his poHtical 
pamphlets are forgotten, his " EIIEA IITEPOENTA ; 
or, the Diversioi^ of Purley," which is not really a 
hook of sports, is still remembered for its philological 
learning. It is a disquisition on the affinities of 
prepositions, the relationships of conjunctions, and the 
intimacies of other parts of speech. His other 
diversions appear to have been less reputable, for he 
was the father of one illegitimate son and two daughters. 

His intention was to have been buried in the grounds 
of Purley House, but when he died, in 1812, at 
Wimbledon, his mortal coil was laid to rest at Ealing ; 
and so it chanced that the vault he had constructed 
in his garden remained, after all, untenanted, with the 
unfinished epitaph : 


Late Proprietor and now Occupier 

of this spot, 

was born in June 1736, 

Died in 

Aged years. 
Contented and Grateful. 

Purley House is still standing, though considerably 
altered, and presents few features reminiscent of the 
eighteenth-century politician, and fewer still of the 
Puritan Bradshaw, the regicide, who once resided here. 
It stands in the midst of tall elms, and looks as far 
removed from political dissensions as may well be 
imagined, its trim lawn and trellised walls overgrown 
in summer by a tangle of greenery. 

But suburban expansion has at last reached Tooke's 
rural retreat from political strife, and the estate is 
now " developed," with roads driven through and 
streets of villas planned, leaving only the old house 
and some few acres of gardens around it. 




Returning to the main road, we come, just before 
reaching Godstone Comer, to the. site of the now- 
forgotten Foxley Hatch, a turnpike-gate, which stood 
at this point until 1865. Paying toll here " cleared," 
or made the traveller free of, the gates and bars to 
Merstham, on the main road, and as far as Wray 
Common, on the Reigate route, as the following copy 
of a contemporary turnpike-ticket shows : 

Foxley Hatch Gate 


clears Wray common. Gatton, 

Merstham and Hooley lane, 

gates and bars 

" To Riddlesdown, the prettiest spot in Surrey," 
says a sign-post on the left hand. It is not true that 
it is the prettiest place, but, of course (as the proverb 
truly says), " every eye forms its own beauty," and 
Riddlesdown is a Beanfeasters' Paradise, where tea- 
gardens, swings, and I know not what temerarious 
delights await the tripper who accepts the invita- 
tion, boldly displayed, " Up the Steps for Home 

Here an aged milestone, in addition, proclaims it 
to be " XIII Miles from the Standard in Cornhill, 
London, 1743," and "XII Miles From We/tmin/ter 
Bridge," This is, doubtless, one of the stones referred 
to in the London Evening Post of September 10th, 1743, 


which says : "On Wednesday they began to measure 
the Croydon Road from the Standard in Cornhill and 
stake the places for erecting milestones, the inhabitants 
of Croydon having subscribed for 13, which 'tis 
thought will be carried on by the Gentlemen of 

I know nothing of what those Sussex gentlemen 
did, but that the milestones were carried on is evident 
enough to all who care to explore the old Brighton 
Road through Godstone, up Tilburstow Hill, and so 
on to East Grinstead, Uckfield, and Lewes, where this 
fine bold series, dated 1744, is continued. What, 
however, has become of the series so liberally provided 
in 1743 by the " inhabitants of Croydon " ? What 
indeed ? Only this one, the thirteenth, remains ; the 
other twelve, marking the distance from the 
" Standard " in Cornhill, in addition to Westminster 
Bridge, have been spirited away, and their places have 
been taken by others, themselves old, but chiefly 
marking the mileage from Whitehall and the Royal 

We all know that the Brighton Road is nowadays 
measured from the south side of Westminster Bridge, 
but it is not generally known — nor possibly known to 
one person in every ten thousand of those who consider 
they have worn the Brighton Road threadbare — that 
it was measured from " Westminster Bridge " before 
ever there was a bridge. No bridge existed across the 
Thames anywhere between London Bridge and Putney 
until November 10th, 1750, when Westminster Bridge, 
after being for many years under construction, was 
opened, superseding the ancient ferry which from 
time immemorial had plied between Horseferry Stairs, 
Westminster, and Stangate on the Surrey side, the 
site of the present Lambeth Bridge. The way to 
Brighton (and to all southern roads) lay across London 

The old stones dated 1743 and 1744, and g'ving 
the mileage from the bridge, were thus displaying 
that " intelligent anticipation of events " which is, 


perhaps, even more laudable in statesmen than in 
milestones — and as rarely found. 

To this day no man knoweth the distance between 
London and Brighton. Conv^ention fixes the distance 
as 51 ^ miles from the south side of Westminster Bridge 
to the Aquarium, by the classic route ; but where is 
he who has chained it in proper surveyorly manner ? 
The milestones themselves are a curious miscellany, 
and form an interesting study. They might profitably 
have been made a subject for the learned deliberations 
of the Pickwick Club, but the opportunity was 
unfortunately missed, and the world is doubtless the 
loser of much curious lore. 

Where is he who can, offhand, describe the first 
milestone on the Brighton Road, and tell where it 
stands ? It ought to be no difficult matter, for miles 
are not — or should not be — elastic. 

It stands, in fact, on the kerb at the right-hand 
side of Kennington Road, between Nos. 230 and 232, 
just short of Lower Kennington Lane, and is a poor 
old battered relic, set angle wise and with the top 
broken away, bearing the legend, in what was once 
bold lettering : 



That is the first milestone on the Brighton Road. 
Sterne, were he here to-day, would shed salt tears of 
sentiment upon it, we may be sure. It says nothing 
whatever about Brighton, and is probably the one and 
only stone that takes the Horseguards as a datum. 

About forty yards beyond this initial landmark 
is another " first " milestone : a tall, upstanding 
affair, certainly a century old, with three blank sides, 
and a fourth inscribed : 






This is followed by a long series of stones of one 
pattern, probably dating from 1800, marking every 
half mile. The series starts with the stone on the 
kerb close by the tramway office at the triangle, 
where the Brixton Road begins. It records on two 
sides " Royal Exchange 2^ miles," and on a third 
" Whitehall 2 miles," and is followed, opposite No. 158, 
Brixton Road, by a stone carrying on the tale by 
another half a mile. These silent witnesses may be 
traced nearly into Croydon, with sundry gaps where 
they have been removed. Those recording the 4th, 
6th, 8|th, 9^th, and 10th miles from Whitehall are 
missing, the last of the series now extant being that 
at the corner of Broad Green Avenue, making " White- 
hall 9 miles. Royal Exchange 9| miles." The 10th 
from Whitehall, ending the series, stood at the corner 
of the Whitgift Hospital. 

These were succeeded by one of the old eighteenth- 
century series, marking eleven miles from Westminster 
Bridge and twelve from the " Standard," but neither 
new nor old stone is there now, and the only one of 
the thirteen mentioned by the London Evening Post 
of 1743 is this near Purley Corner. 

This, marking the 13th mile from the " Standard " 
and the 12th from Westminster Bridge is common to 
both routes, but is followed by the first of a new 
series some way along Smitham Bottom, on which 
Brighton is for the first time mentioned : 











The character of the lettering and the general style 
of this series would lead to the supposition that they 
are dated about 1820. There are three stones in all 
of this kind, the third marking 15 miles from West- 
minster Bridge and 36| to Brighton, followed by a 
series of triangular cast-iron marks, continued through 
Redhill, of which the first bears the legend, " Parish 
of Merstham." On the north side is " 16 from West- 
minster Bridge, 35 to Brighton," and on the south 
" 35 from Brighton, 16 to Westminster Bridge." It 
will be observed that in this first one of a new series 
half a mile is dropped, and henceforward the mileage 
to Brighton becomes by authority 51 miles. Like 
the confectioner who " didn't make ha'porths," the 
turnpike trust which erected these mile-" stones " 
refused to deal in half miles. 


The tramway terminus at Purley Corner is now a 
busy place. Those are only the " old crocks " who 
can remember the South Eastern railway-station of 
Caterham Junction and the surrounding lonely downs ; 
and to them the change to " Purley " and the 
appearance in the wilderness of a mushroom town, 
with its parade of brilliantly lighted shops, its Queen 
Victoria memorial, its public garden and penny-squirt 
fountain, and — not least — its hideous waterworks, are 
things for wonderment. " How strange it seems, and 
new," as Browning — not writing of Purley — remarks. 


Even the ghastly loneliness of the long straight road 
ascending the pass of Smitham Bottom is no more, for 
little villas, with dank little dungeons of gardens, line 
the way, and tradesmen's carts calling for orders 
compete with the motorists who shall kill and maim 
most travellers along the highway. 

The numerous railway-bridges, embankments, 
cuttings, and retaining-walls that disfigure the crest 
of Smitham Bottom are chiefly the results of latter- 
day activities. The first bridge is that of the Chipstead 
Valley Railway — now merged in the South Eastern 
and Chatham — from South Croydon to Chipstead and 
Epsom, 1897 — 1900, with its wayside station of 
" Smitham." This is immediately followed by the 
London, Brighton, and South Coast's station of Stoat's 
Nest, a transformed and transported version of the old 
station of the same name some distance off, and beyond 
it are the bridges and embankments of the same com- 
pany's works of 1896-8 ; themselves almost inextricably 
confused, to the non-technical mind, with the adjoining 
South Eastern roadside station of Coulsdon. 

The chapters of railway history which produced 
all this unlovely medley of engineering works are in 
themselves extremely interesting, and have an 
additional interest to those who trace the story of the 
Brighton Road, for they are concerned with the 
solution of the old problem which faced the coach 
proprietors — how best and quickest to reach Brighton. 

Few outside those intimately concerned with railway 
politics know that although the Brighton line was 
opened throughout in 1842, it was not until 1898 that 
the company owned an uninterrupted route between 
London and Brighton. The explanation of that 
singular condition of affairs is found in the curious 
reluctance of Parliament, two generations ago, to 
give any one railway company the sole control of any 
particular route. Few in those times thought the 
increase of population, and still more the increase 
of travelling, would be so great that competitive 
railways would be established to many places ; 


and thus to sanction the making of a railway to be 
owned by one company throughout seemed like the 
granting of a perpetual monopoly. 

Following this reasoning, a break was made in the 
continuity of the Brighton Railway between Stoat's 
Nest and Redhill, a distance of five miles, and that 
stretch of territory given to the South Eastern Railway, 
with running powers only over it granted to the 
Brighton Company. Similarly, between Croydon and 
Stoat's Nest, the South Eastern had only running 
powers over that interval owned by the Brighton. 

In 1892 and 1894, however, the Brighton Company 
approached Parhament and, proving the growing 
confusion, congestion, and loss of time at Redhill 
Junction, owing to this odd condition of things, 
obtained powers to complete that missing link by the 
construction of an entirely new railway between 
Stoat's Nest and a point just within a quarter of a 
mile of Earlswood Station, beyond Redhill, and also 
to double the existing line between East and South 
Croydon and Purley. The works were completed and 
opened for traffic in 1898, when for the first time the 
Brighton Railway had a complete and uninterrupted 
route of its own to the sea. 

The hamlet of Smitham Bottom, which paradoxically 
stands at the top of the pass of that name, in this 
ancient way across the North Downs, can never have 
been beautiful. It was lonely when Jackson and 
Fewterel fought their prize-fight here, before that 
distinguished patron of sport the Prince of Wales and 
a more or less distinguished company, on June 9th, 
1788 ; when the only edifice of " Smith-in-the- 
Bottom," as the sporting accounts of that time style 
it, appears to have been the ominous one of » gibbet. 
The Jackson who that day fought, and won, his first 
battle in the prize-ring was none other than that 
Bayard of the noble art, " Gentleman Jackson," after- 
wards the friend of Byron and of the Prince Regent 
himself, and subsequently landlord of the " Cock " at 
Sutton. On this occasion Maior Hanger rewarded 


the victor with a bank-note from the enthusiastic 

Until 1898 Smitham Bottom remained a fortuitous 
concourse of some twenty mean houses on a wind- 
swept natural platform, ghastly with the chalky 
" spoil-banks " thrown up when the South Eastern 
Railway engineers excavated the great cuttings in 
1810 ; but when the three railway-stations within one 
mile were established that serve Smitham Bottom — 
the stations of Coulsdon, Stoat's Nest, and Smitham 
— the place, very naturally, began to grow Avith the 
magic quickness generally associated with Jonah's 
Gourd and Jack's Beanstalk, and now Smitham 
Bottom is a town. Most of the spoil-banks are gone, 
and those that remain are planted with quick-growing 
poplars ; so that, if they can survive the hungry soil, 
there will presently be a leafy screen to the ugly 
railway sidings. Showy shops, all plate-glass and 
nightly glare of illumination, have arisen ; the old 
" Red Lion " inn has got a new and very saucy front ; 
and, altogether, " Smitham " has arrived. The second 
half of the name is now in process of being forgotten, 
and the only wonder is that the first part has not been 
changed into " Smytheham " at the very least, or 
that an entirely new name, something in the way of 
" ville " or " park," suited to its prospects, has not 
been coined. For Smitham, one can clearly see, has 
a Future, with a capital F, and the historian confidently 
expects to see the incorporation of Smitham, with 
Mayor, Town Council, and Town Hall, all complete. 

It is here, at Marrowfat, now " Marlpit," Lane, that 
the new link of the Brighton line branches off from 
Stoat's Nest.* One of the first trials of the engineers 
was the removal of threequarters of a million cubic 
yards of the "spoil," dumped down by the roadside 
over half a century earlier ; and then followed the 
spanning of the Brighton Road by a girder-bridge. 
The line then entered the grounds of the Cane Hill 

* The name derives from a farm so called, marked on a map of 
1716 "Stotes Ne/8." 


Lunatic Asylum, through which it runs in a covered 
way, the London County Council, under whose control 
that institution is carried on, obtaining a clause in 
the Company's Act, requiring the railway to be 
covered in at this point, in case the lunatics might 
find means of throwing themselves in front of passing 

Leaving the asylum grounds, the railway re-crosses 
the road by a hideous skew girder bridge of 180 feet 
span, supported by giant piers and retaining- walls, 
and then crosses the deep cutting of the South Eastern, 
to enter a cutting of its own leading into a tunnel a 
mile and a quarter in length — the new Merstham 
tunnel — running parallel with the old tunnel of the 
same name through which the South Eastern Railway 
passes. At the southern end of this gloomy tunnel is 
the pretty village of Merstham, where the hillside 
sinks down to the level lands between that point and 

At Merstham one of the odd problems of the new 
line was reached, for there it had to be constructed 
over a network of ancient tunnels made centuries 
ago in the hillside — quarry- tunnels whence came much 
of the limestone that went towards the building of 
Henry VIL's Chapel at Westminster Abbey. The 
old workings are still accessible to the explorer who 
dares the accumulation of gas in them given off by 
the limestone rock. 

The geology of these five miles of new railway 
is peculiarly varied, limestone and chalk giving place 
suddenly to the gault of the levels, and followed again 
by a hillside bed of Fuller's earth, succeeded in turn 
by red sand. The Fuller's earth, resting upon a 
slippery substratum of gault, only required a little 
rain and a little disturbance to slide down and over- 
whelm the railway works, and retaining-walls of the 
heaviest and most substantial kind were necessary 
in the cuttings where it occurred. TunneUing for a 
quarter of a mile through the sand that gives Redhill 
its name, the railway crosses obliquely under the South 


Eastern, and then joins the old Brighton line territory 
just before reaching Earlswood station. 

All these engineering manifestations give the old 
grim neighbourhood of Smitham Bottom a new 
grimness. The trains of the Brighton line boom, 
rattle, and clank overhead into the covered way, 
whose ventilators spout steam like some infernal 
laundry, and from the 80-foot deep cuttings close 
beside the road, steamy billows arise very weirdly. 
Presiding over all are the beautiful grounds and vast 
ranges of buildings of the Cane Hill Lunatic Asylum, 
housing an ever-increasing population of lunatics, 
now numbering some three thousand. Sometimes the 
quieter members of that unfortunate community are 
seen, being given a walk along the road, outside their 
bounds, and the sight and the thoughts they engender 
are not cheering. 

Along the road, where the walls of the cutting 
descend perpendicularly, is the severely common- 
place hamlet of Hooley, formerly Howleigh, consisting 
of the " Star " inn and some twenty square brick 
cottages. Just beyond it, where a modern Cyclists' 
Rest and tea-rooms building stands to the left of the 
road, the first traces of the old Surrey Iron Railway, 
which crossed the highway here, are found, in the 
shallower cutting, still noticeable, although disused 
seventy years ago. Alders, hazels, and blackberry 
brambles grow on the side of it, and its bridges are 
ivy-grown : primroses and violets, too, grow there 
wondrously profuse. 

And here we will, by way of interlude, turn aside, 
up a lane to the right hand, toward the village of 
Chipstead, in whose churchyard lies Sir Edward 
Banks, who began life in the humblest manner, 
working as a navvy upon this same forgotten railway, 
afterwards rising, as partner in the firm of Jolliffe & 
Banks, to be an employer of labour and contractor 
to the Government : in short, another Tom Brassey. 
All these things are recorded of him upon a memorial 
tablet in the church of Chipstead — a tablet which 


lets nothing of his worth escape you, so prolix 
is it.* 

It was while delving amid the chalk of this tramway 
cutting that Edward Banks first became acquainted 
with this village, and so charmed with it was he that 
he expressed a desire, when his time should come, to 
be laid at rest in its quiet graveyard. When he died, 
after a singularly successful career, his wish was 
carried out, and here, in this quiet spot overlooking 
the highway, you may see his handsome tomb, begirt 
with iron railings, and overshadowed with ancient 

The little church of Chipstead is of Norman origin, 
and still shows some interesting features of that period, 
with some unusual Early English additions that have 
presented architectural puzzles even to the minds of 
experts. Many years ago the late Mr. G. E. Street, 
the architect of the present Royal Courts of Justice 
in London, read a paper upon this building, advancing 
the theory that the curious pedimental windows of 
the chancel and the transept door were not the Saxon 
work they appeared to be, but were the creation of 
an architect of the Early English period who had 
a fancy for reviving Saxon features, and who was the 
builder and designer of a series of Surrey churches, 
among which is included that of Merstham. 

* " Sir Edward Banks, Knight, of Sheerness, Isle of Sheppey, and 
Adelphi Terrace, Strand, Middlesex, whose remains are deposited 
in the family vault in this churchyard. Blessed by Divine Providence 
with an honest heart, a clear head, and an extraordinary degree of 
perseverance, he rose superior to all difficulties, and was the founder 
of his own fortune ; and although of self-cultivated talent, he in 
early life became contractor for public works, and was actively and 
successfully engaged during forty years in the execution of some of 
the most useful, extensive, and splendid works of his time ; amongst 
which may be mentioned the Waterloo, Southwark, London, and 
Staines Bridges over the Thames, the Naval Works at Sheerness 
Dockyard, and the new channels for the rivers Ouse, Nene, and 
Witham in Norfolk and Lincolnshire. He was eminently 
distinguished for the simplicity of his manners and the benevolence 
of his heart ; respected for his inflexible integrity and his pure and 
unaffected piety ; in all the relations of his life he was candid, 
diligent, and humane ; just in purpose, firm in execution ; his 
liberality and indulgence to his numerous coadjutors were alone 
equalled by his generosity and charity displayed in the disposal of 
his honourably-acquired wealth. He departed this life at Tilgate, 
Sussex ... on the 5th day of July, 1835, in the sixty -sixth year 
of his age." 


Within the belfry here is a ring of fine bells, some 
of them of a respectable age, and three bearing the 
inscription, with variations : 


R <}fp £ 

From here a bye-lane leads steeply once more into 
the high road, which winds along the valley, sloping 
always towards the Weald. Down the long descent 
into Merstham village tall and close battalions of fir- 
trees lend a sombre colouring to the foreground, 
while " southward o'er Surrey's pleasant hills " the 
evening sunlight streams in parting radiance. On the 
left hand as we descend are the eerie-looking blow- 
holes of the Merstham tunnel, which here succeeds the 
cutting. Great heaps of chalk, by this time partly 
overgrown with grass, also mark its course, and in the 
distance, crowned as many of them are with telegraph 
poles, they look by twilight curiously and awfully 
like so many Calvarys. 

Beside the descent into Merstham was situated 
the terminus of the old Iron Railway, in the great 
excavated hollow of the Greystone lime-works, where 
the lime-burners still quarry the limestone and the 
smoke of their burning ascends day and night. The 
old " Hylton Arms," down below, that served the 
turn of the lime-burners when they wanted to slake 
their thirst, has been ornately rebuilt in the modern- 
Elizabethan Public House Style, alongside the road, 
to catch the custom of the world at large, and is 
named the " Jolliffe Arms." Both signs reflect the 
ownership of Merstham, for Jolliffe has long been 
the family name of the holders of the modern Barony 
of Hylton. Formerly " Jolly," it was presumably 
too bacchanalian and not sufficiently aristocratic, and 
so it was changed, just as your " Smythe " was once 
Smith, and " Johnes " Jones. 



Merstham is as pretty a village as Surrey affords, 
and typically English. Railways have not abated, 
nor these turbid times altered in any great measure, 
its fine air of aristocratic and old-time rusticity. At 
one end of its one clearly-defined street, set at an angle 
to the high-road, are the great ornamental gates of 


Merstham Park, setting their stamp of landed 
aristocracy upon the place. To their right is a tiny 
gate leading to the public right-of-way through the 
park, which presently crosses over the pond where 
rise fitfully the springs of Merstham Brook, a congener 
of the Kentish " Nailbournes," and one of the many 
sources of the River Mole. To the marshy ground by 
this brook, and to its stone-quarries, the place owes 


its name. It was in Domesday Book " Merstan " = 
Mere-stan, the stone (house) by the lake. 

Beyond the brook, above the tall trees, is seen the 
shingled spire of the church, an Early English building 
dedicated to St. Catherine, not yet spoiled, despite 
restorations and the scraping which its original lancet 
windows have undergone, in misguided efforts to 
endue them with an air of modernity. 

The church is built of that limestone or " fire- 
stone " found so freely in the neighbourhood — a famed 
speciality wliich entered largely into the building and 
ornamentation of Henry the Seventh's Chapel at 
Westminster. Those wondrously intricate and 
involved carvings and traceries, whose decadent 
Gothic delicacy is the despair of present-day architects 
and stone-carvers, were possible only in this stone, 
which, when quarried, is of exceeding softness, but 
afterwards, on exposure to the air, assumes a hardness 
equalling that of any ordinary building-stone, and has, 
in addition, the merit of resisting fire, whence its 
name. From the softer layers comes that article of 
domestic use, the " hearthstone," used to whiten 
London hearths and doorsteps. 

Merstham Church is even yet 'of considerable 
interest. It contains brasses to the Newdegate, Best, 
and Elmebrygge families, one recording in black letter ; 

" Hie mtt goJ^isiCImfbrgggt, anaiger, qui obiit biij lit 
fffftruarij ^° giii '^°cccc°lm'i, tt ^inhtlh iwor Jtius 
qnzt fuit filia ^ir^i l^amgs quonira ^aioris ft 
^I&jermaS Jonboit : qnut obiit tjij° l)u Sitgitvabtii 
^° iiii gp;°rajc°l3f3Etj° tt ^nnst uxor ti : quat 
fuit filia ^ops ^ropl^ttje <5fntilman quaf obiit , , , 
gi° gni |5^°rrjc°. . , . qworii animabua 
j^pimtur gt«»." 

The date of the second wife's death has never been 
inserted, showing that the brass was engraved and set 
during her lifetime, as in so many other examples of 
monumental brasses throughout the country. The 


figure of John Elmebrygge is wanting, it having been 
at some time torn from its matrix, but above his 
figure'? indent remains a label inscribed Sancta 
Trinitas, and from the mouths of the remaining figures 
issue labels inscribed Umis Deus — Miserere nobis. 
Beneath is a group of seven daughters ; the group of 
four sons is long since lost. 

A transitional Norman font of grey Sussex marble 
remains at the western end of the church, and on an 
altar-tomb in the southern chapel are the poor remains 
of an ancient stone figure of the fifteenth century, 
presumably the effigy of a merchant civilian, as he is 
represented wearing the gypciere. It is hacked out 
of almost all significance at the hands of some 
iconoclasts ; their chisel-marks are even now distinct 
and bear witness against the Puritan rage that defaced 
and buried it face downwards, the reverse side of the 
stone forming part of the chapel pavement until 
1861, when it was discovered during the restoration 
of the church. 

Before that restoration this was an interior of 
Georgian high pews. Among them the " squire's 
parlour " was pre-eminent, with its fireplace, its well- 
carpeted floor, its chairs and tables ; a snuggery 
wherein that good man snored unobserved, or partook 
critically of his snuff during the parson's discreet 
discourse. But now the parlour is gone, and the 
squire must slumber, if he can, with the other sinners. 

In Merstham village, just beyond the " Feathers " 
inn, stood Merstham toll-gate, followed by that of 
Gatton, at Gatton Point, a mile distant, where the old 
route through Reigate goes off to the right, and the 
new — the seven miles between Gatton Point and Povey 
Cross, through Redhill — continues, straight as an 
arrow, ahead. The way is bordered on the right hand 
by Gatton Park, a spot the country folk rightly 
describe as an " old arnshunt place." The history of 
Gatton, in truth, goes back to immemorial times, and 
has no beginning : for where history thins out and 
becomes a mere scatter of disjointed scraps purporting 


to be facts, tradition carries back the tale into a very 
fog of legend and conjecture. It was " Gatone " 
when the Domesday survey was made : the Saxon 
" Geat-ton," the town in the " gate," passage, or road 
through the North Downs, just as Reigate is the 
Saxon " Rige-geat," the road over the ridge. The 
" ton " or town in the place-name does not necessarily 
mean what we moderns would understand by the word, 
and here doubtless indicated an enclosed, hedged, or 
walled-in tract of land redeemed and cultivated out 
of the then encompassing wilderness of the Downs. 

Who first broke the land of Gatton to the plough ? 
History and tradition are silent. No voice speaks out 
of the grave of the centuries. But both Reigate and 
Gatton are older than Anglo-Saxon times, for a Roman 
way, itself following the course of an even earlier 
savage trail, came up out of the stodgy clay of 
Holmesdale, over the chalky hills, to Streatham and 
London. It was a branch of the road leading from 
Partus Adurni — the present Old Shoreham, on the 
river Adur — and doubtless, in the long centuries of 
Romano-British civilisation, it was bordered here and 
there by settlements and villas. Prominent among 
them was Gatton. There can scarcely be a doubt of 
it, for, although Roman relics are not found here now, 
Camden, writing in the time of Henry the Eighth, 
tells of " Roman Coynes digged forth of the Ground." 
It was ever a desirable site, for here unfailing springs 
well out of the chalk and give an abounding fertility, 
while another road — the ancient Pilgrims' Way — 
running west and east, crossed the other highway, and 
thus gave ready communication on every side. 

Gatton has, within the historic period, never been 
more than a manorial park, but an unexplained 
something, like the echo of a vanished greatness, has 
caused strangely unmerited honours to be granted it. 
Who shall say what induced Henry the Sixth in 1451 
to make this mere country park a Parliamentary 
borough, returning two members ? There must have 
been some adequate reason or excuse, even if only 


the one of its ancient renown ; for there must always 
be an apology of sorts for corruption ; no job is jobbed 
without at least some shadowy semblance of legality. 
But no one will ever pluck out the heart of its mystery. 

A Parliamentary borough Gatton remained until 
1832, when the first Reform Act swept away the 
representation of it, together with that of many 
another " rotten borough." Rightly had Cobbett 
termed it " a very rascally spot of earth," for certainly 
from 1541, when Sir Roger Copley owned the property 
and was the sole elector of the place, the election was 
a scandalous farce, and never at any time did the 
" burgesses " exceed twenty. They were always 
tenants of the lord of the manor and the mere 
marionettes that danced to his will. 

Gatton, returning its two members to Parliament, 
as of old, was early in the nineteenth century purchased 
by Mark Wood, Esq., who was soon after created a 
Baronet. It was then recorded that in this borough 
there were six houses and only one freeholder : Sir 
Mark Wood himself. The other five houses he let by 
the week ; and thus, paying the taxes, he was the only 
elector of the two representatives. At the election, 
he and his son Mark were the candidates, and the 
father duly elected himself and his son ! Scandalous, 
no doubt ; but those members must have represented 
the constituency better than could those of a larger 

The landowner who possessed such a pocket-borough 
as this, and could send whomsoever he liked to 
Parliament, to vote as he wished, was, of course, a 
very important personage. His opposition was a 
serious matter to Governments ; his support of the 
highest value, both politically and in a pecuniary 
sense ; and thus place, honours, riches, could be, and 
were, secured. The manor of Gatton actually, in the 
cynical recognition of these things, was valued at 
twice its worth without that Parliamentary representa- 
tion, and Lord Monson, who purchased the property 
in 1830, gave as much as £100,000 for it, solely as an 



investment in jobbery and corruption, by which he 
hoped, in the course of shrewd poHtical wire-pulHng, 
to obtain a cent per cent return. 

He was a humorist of a cynical turn who built in 
front of the great mansion in midst of the park a 
" Town Hall " for the non-existent town, and inscribed 



on the urn which stands by this freakish, temple-like 
structure the motto, satirical in this setting, " Salus 
populi suprema lex esto" together with other sardonic 
Latin, to the effect that no votes sullied by bribery 
should be given. 


Less than two years after Lord Monson's purchase 
of the estate, Reform had destroyed the value of 
Gatton Park, for it was disfranchised. We can only 
wonder that he did not claim compensation for the 
abolition of his " vested interests." 

There is a remarkable appropriateness in Gatton 
Hall being designed in the classic style, for its marble 
hall and Corinthian hexastyle colonnade no doubt 
revive the glories of the Roman villa of sixteen hundred 
years ago. It is magnificence itself, being indeed 
designed something after the manner of the Vatican 
at Rome, and decorated with rare and costly marbles 
and frescoes ; but perhaps, to any one less than an 
emperor or a pope, a little unhomely and uncomfortable 
to live in. Since 1888 it has been the seat of Sir 
Jeremiah Colman, of Colman's2_Mustard, created a 
Baronet, 1907 : 

Mother, get it if you're able. 
See the trade mark on the label, 
Colman 's Mustard is the Beet— [Ad vt.], 

as some unlaurelled bard of the grocery trade once 
sang, in deathless verse. 


Half a mile short of what is now Redhill town, there 
once stood yet another toll-gate. " Frenches " Gate 
took its title from the old manor on which it stood, and 
the manor itself probably derived its name from the 
unenclosed or free (franche) land of which it was 
wholly or largely composed. 

Redhill town has not existed long enough to have 
accumulated any history. When the more direct 
route was made this way, avoiding Reigate, in 1816, 
Redhill was — a hill. The hill is still here, as the 
cyclist well enough knows, and we will take on trust 
that red gravel whence its name comes ; but since 


that time the town of Redliill, now numbering some 
16,000 persons, has come into existence, and when we 
speak of Redhill we mean — not the height up which 
the coaches laboured, but a certain commonplace town 
lying at the foot of it, with a busy railway junction 
where there are always plenty of trains, but never the 
one you want, and quite a number of public institutions 
of the asylum and reformatory type. 

The railway junction has, of course, created Redhill 
town, which is really in the parish of Reigate. When 
the land began to be built upon, in the '40's, it was 
called "Warwick Town," after the then Countess of 
Warwick, the landowner, and the names of a road and 
a public-house still bear witness to that somewhat 
lickspittle method of nomenclature. But there is, 
and can be, only one possible Warwick in England, 
and "Redhill" this "Warwick Town," by natural 
selection, became. 

There could have been no more certain method of 
inviting the most odious of comparisons than that of 
naming Redhill after the fine old feudal town of 
Warwick, which first arose beneath the protecting 
walls of its ancient castle. Either town has an origin 
typical of its era, and both look their history and 
circumstances. Redhill, within the memory of those 
still living, sprang up around a railway platform, and 
the only object that may be said to frown in it is the 
great gas-holder, built on absolutely the most prominent 
and desirable site in the whole "town ; and that not 
only frowns, but stinks as well, and is therefore not a 
desirable substitute for a castle keep. Here, at any 
rate, " Mrs. Partington's " remark that " comparisons 
is odorous " would be altogether in order. 

Prominent above all other buildings in the town, 
in the backward view from that godfatherly hill, is 
the huge St. Anne's Asylum, housing between four and 
five hundred children of the poor. 

" The Cutting " through the brow of the hill, 
enclosed on either side by high brick walls, leads 
presently upon Redhill and Earlswood Commons, 


where movement is unrestrained and free as air, and 
the vision is bounded only by Leith Hill in one direction 
and the blue haze of distance in another. 

It is Holmesdale — the vale of holms, or oak woods — 
upon which you gaze from here ; that 

» Vale of Holniesdall 

Never woune, ne never shall, 

as the braggart old couplet has it, in allusion to the 
defeat and slaughter of the invading Danes at Ockley 
A.D. 851. 

In one of its periodic funks, the War Office, terrified 
for the safety of London more than for that of 
Holmesdale, purchased land on this hill-top for the 
erection of a fort, and — in a burst of confidence — sold 
it again. The time is probably near when the War 
Office, like another " Sister Anne," will " see somebody 
coming," when this or another site will be re-purchased 
at a much enhanced, or scare, price. 

Earlswood Common is a welcome change after 
Redhill. It gives sensations of elbow-room, of freedom 
and vastness, not so much from its own size as from 
the expanse of that view across the Weald of Surrey 
and Sussex. The road across Earlswood Common is 
an almost perfect " switchback," as the cyclist who is 
not met with a southerly wind will discover. You can 
see it from this view-point, going undulating away 
until in the dim woody perspective it seems to 
end in some tangled and trackless forest, so 
densely grown do the trees look from this 

It was here, at a wayside inn, that the present 
historian fell in with a Sussex peasant of the ancient 
and vanishing kind. 

He was drinking from a tankard of the pea-soup 
which they call ale in these parts, sitting the while 
upon a bench whose like is usually found outside old 
country inns. Ruddy of face, with clean-shaven lips 
and chin, his grizzled beard kept rigidly upon his 
wrinkled dewlap, his hands gnarled and twisted with 



toil and rheumatism, he sat there in smock-frock and 
gaiters, as typical a countryman as ever on London 
stage brought the scent of the hay across the foothghts. 
That smock of his, the " round frock " of Sussex 
parlance, was worked about the yoke of it, fore and 
aft, with many and curious devices, whose patterns, 
though he, and she who worked them, knew it not, 
derived from centuries of tradition and precept, had 
been handed down from Saxon times, aye, and before 


them, to the present day, when, their significance lost, 
they excite merely a mild wonder at their oddity and 

He was, it seemed, a " hedger and ditcher," and his 
leathern gauntlets and billhook lay beside him on the 
ale-house bench. 

" IVe worked at this sort o' thing," said he, in 
conversation, " for the last twenty year. Hard work ? 
yes, onaccountable hard, and small pay for't too. 


Two and twopence a day I gets, an' works from seven 
o'marnings to half-past five in the afternoon for that. 
You'll be gettin' more than two and twopence a day 
when you're at work, I reckon." 

To evade that remark by an opinion that a country 
life was preferable to existence in a town was easy. The 
old man agreed with the proposition, for he had visited 
London, and " a dirty place it was, sure-ly." Also he 
had been atop of the Monument, to the Tower, and to 
the resort he called " Madame Two Swords " : places 
that Londoners generally leave to provincials. Thus, 
the country cousin within our gates is more learned in 
the stock sights of town than townsfolk themselves. 

From here the road slopes gently to the Weald past 
Petridge Wood and Salfords, where a tributary of the 
Mole crosses, and where the last turnpike-gate was 
abolished, with cheers and a hip-hip-hooray, at the 
midnight of October 31st, 1881. 

At Horley, the left-hand road, forming an alternative 
way to Brighton by Worth, Balcombe, and Wivelsfield, 
touches the outskirts of Thunderfield Castle. 

Thunderfield Castle should — if tremendous names 
go for aught — be a stupendous keep of the Torquilstone 
type, but it is, sad to say, nothing of the kind, being 
merely a flat circular grassy space, approached over 
the Mole and doubly islanded by two concentric moats. 
It stands upon the estate of Harrowslea — ^" Harsley," 
as the countryfolk call it — supposed to have once 
belonged to King Harold. 

There seems to be no doubt whatever that the 
Anglo-Saxons did name the place after the god Thunor. 
It was known by that name in the time of Alfred the 
Great, but no one knows what it was like then ; nor, 
for that matter, what the appearance of it was when 
the Norman de Clares owned it. It seems never to 
have been a castle built of stone, but an adaptation of 
the primitive savage idea of surrounding a position 
with water and palisading it. Thunderfield was a 
veritable stronghold of the woods and bogs, and the 
defenders of it were like Hereward the Wake, who 



could often remain a " passive resister " and see the 
invaders struggling with the sloughs, the odds over- 
whelmingly in favour of the forces of nature. 

The history of Thunderfield will never be written, but 
if a guess may be hazarded, the final catastrophe, which 


was the prime cause of the half-burnt timbers and the 
many human remains discovered here long ago, was a 
storming of the place by the forces of the neighbouring 


de Warennes, ancient and bitter enemies of the de 
Clares ; probably in the wars of the twelfth century, 
between King Stephen and the Empress Maud, 

It is an eminently undesirable situation for a 
residence, however suitable it may have been for 
defence ; and the Saxons who occupied it must 
have known what rheumatism is. Dark woods 
now enclose the place, and cluttering wildfowl form 
its garrison. 

The " Chequers " at Horley is not quite half way 
to Brighton, but in default of another it is the half- 
way house. Its name derives from the old chequy, 
or chessboard, arms of the Earls of Warren, chequered 
in gold and blue. They were not only great personages 
in this vale, but enjoyed in mediaeval times the right 
of licensing ale-houses : hence the many " Chequers " 
throughout the country. The newer portions of the 
house are typically suburban, but the old-world front, 
with its quaint portico, the whole shaded by a group 
of ancient oaks, remains untouched. 

Horley — the " Hurle " of old maps — is very 
scattered : a piece here, another there, and the parish 
church standing isolated at the extreme southern end 
of the wide parish. It is situated on an extensive 
flat, reeking like a sponge with the waters of the Mole, 
but, although so entirely undesirable a place, is under 
exploitation for building purposes. A stranger first 
arriving at Horley late at night, and seeing its long 
lines of lighted streets radiating in several directions, 
would think he had come to a town ; but morning 
would show him that long perspectives of gas-lamps 
do not necessarily mean houses to correspond. 
Evidently those responsible for the lamps expect a 
coming expansion of Horley ; but that expectation 
is not very likely to be realised. 

Much of Horley belongs to Christ's Hospital, which 
is said to be under obligation to educate two children 
of poor widows, in return for the great tithes long 
since bequeathed to it, and is additionally accused 
of having consistently betrayed that trust. 

1 '*''''^ ^Mi 



c . 


The parish church, chiefly of the Early EngHsh and 
Decorated periods of Gothic architecture, contains some 
brasses and a poor old stone efBgy of a bygone lord of 
the manor, broken-nosed and chipped, but not without 
its interest. The double-headed eagle on his shield is 
still prominent, and the crowded detail of his mailed 
armour and the lacings of his surcoat are as distinct as 
when sculptured six centuries ago. He wears the little 
misericorde, or dagger, at his belt, the " merciful " 
instrument with which gentle knights finished off their 
wounded enemies in the chivalric days of old. 

Many years ago some person unknown stole the old 
churchwardens' account-book, dating from the 
sixteenth century. After many wanderings in the 
land, it was at length purchased at a second-hand 
bookseller's and presented to the British Museum, in 
which mausoleum of literature, in the Department of 
Manuscripts, it is now to be found. It contains a 
curious item, showing that even in the rigid times that 
produced the great Puritan upheaval, congregations 
were not unapt for irreverence. Thus in 1632 " John 
Ansty is chosen by the consent of y® minister and 
parishioners to see y* y® younge men and boyes behave 
themselves decently in y® church in time of divine 
service and sermon, and he is to have for his 
paines ij«-" 

The nearest neighbour to the church is the almost 
equa y ancient " Six Bells " inn, which took its title 
from the ring of bells in the church tower. Since 1839, 
however, when two bells were added, there have been 
eight in the belfry. 

The stranger, foregathering with the rustics at the 
" Six Bells," and missing the old houses that once stood 
near the church and have been replaced by new, very 
quickly has his regrets for them cut short by those 
matter-of-fact villagers, who declare that " ye wooden 
tark so ef ye had to live in un." A typical rustic had 
" comic brown-titus " acquired in one of those damp old 
cottages, and has " felt funny " ever since. One with 
difficulty resisted the suggestion that, if he could be as 


funny as he felt, he should ^et up for a humorist, and 
oust some of the dull dogs who pose as jesters. 

Opposite Horley church is Gatwick Park, since 1892 
converted into a racecourse, with a railway station of 
its own. Less than a mile below it, at Povey Cross, 
the Sutton and Reigate route to Brighton joins the 
main road. 


The Sutton and Reigate route to Brighton, instead 
of branching off along the Brixton Road, pursues a 
straight undeviating course down the Clapham Road, 
through Balham and Upper and Lower Tooting, 
where it turns sharply to the left at the Broadway, 
and in half a mile right again, at Amen Corner. Thence 
it goes, by Figg's Marsh and Mitcham, to Sutton. 

It is not before Mitcham is reached that, in these 
latter days, the pilgrim is conscious of travelling the 
road to anywhere at all. It is all modern " street " — 
and streets, to this commentator at least, have a strong 
resemblance to rows of dog-kennels. They are places 
where citizens live on the chain. They lack the charm 
of obviously leading elsewhere : and even although 
electric tramcars speed multitudinously along them, to 
some near or distant terminus, they do but arrive there 
at other streets. 

Mitcham is at present beyond these brick and 
mortar tentacles, and is grouped not unpicturesquely 
about a village green and along the road to the Wandle. 
Pleasant, ruddy-faced seventeenth and eighteenth- 
century mansions look upon that green, notable in the 
early days of Surrey cricket ; and away at the further 
end of it is the vast flat of Mitcham Common, that 
dreary, long-drawn expanse which is at once the best 
illustration of eternity and of a Shakespearian " blasted 
heath " that can readily be thought of. 

" Mitcham lavender " brings fragrant memories, 
and indeed the only thing that serves to render the 


weary length of Mitcham Common at all endurable is 
the scent of it, borne on the breeze from the distillery, 
midway across : the distillery that no one would 
remember to be Jakson's, except for the eccentricity 
of spelling the name. 

This by the way ; for one does not cross Mitcham 
Common to reach Sutton. But there is, altogether, 
a sweet savour pervading Mitcham, a scent of flowers 
that will not be spoiled even by the linoleum works, 
which are apt to be offensive ; for Mitcham is still a 
place where those sweet-smelling and other " economic " 
plants, lavender, mint, chamomile, aniseed, pepper- 
mint, rosemary, and liquorice, are grown for distillation. 
The place owes this distinction to no mere chance, but 
to its peculiar black mould, found to be exceptionally 
suited to this culture. 

Folk-rhymes are often uncomplimentary, and that 
which praises Sutton for its mutton and Cheam for 
juicy beef, is more severe than one cares to quote on 
Epsom ; and, altogether ignoring the mingled 
fragrances of Mitcham, declares it the place " for a 
thief." We need not, however, take the matter 
seriously : the rhymester was only at his wit's end for 
a rhyme to " beef." 

Mitcham station, beside the road, is a curious 
example of what a railway company can do in its 
rare moments of economy ; for it is an early nineteenth- 
century villa converted to railway purposes by the 
process of cutting a hole through the centre. It is a 
sore puzzle to a stranger in a hurry. 

From Mitcham one ascends a hill past the woodland 
estate of Ravensbury, crossing the abundantly- 
exploited Wandle ; and then, along a still rural road, 
to the modern town of Sutton. 

On the fringe of that town, at the discreet 
" residential " suburb of Benhilton, is a scenic surprise 
in the way of a deep cutting in the hilly road. Spanned 
by a footbridge, graced with trees, and neighboured 
by the old " Angel " inn, " Angel Bridge," as it is 
called, is a pretty spot. The rise thus cut through was 


once known as Been Hill, and on that basis was 
fantastically reared the name of Benhilton. One 
cannot but admire the ingenuity of it. 

" Sutton for mutton " : so ran the old-time rhyme. 
The reason of that ancient repute is found in the 
downs in whose lap the place is situated ; those thy my 
downs that afforded such splendid pasturage for sheep. 
Sutton Common is gone, enclosed in 1810, but the downs 
remain ; and yet that rhyme has lost its reason, and 
Sutton is no longer celebrated for anything above its 
fellow towns. Even the famous " Cock " is gone — 
that old coaching-inn kept by the ex-pugilist, " Gentle- 
man Jackson." Long threatened, it was at last 
demolished in 1898, and with the old house went the 
equally famous sign that straddled across the road. 
The similar sign of the " Greyhound " still remains ; 
the last relic of narrower streets and times more 

Leaving Sutton " town," as we call it nowadays, 
the road proceeds to climb steadily uphill to the 
modern suburb of " Belmont," where stands an old, 
but very well cared-for, milestone setting forth that 
it is distant " XIII. miles from the Standard in 
Cornhill, London, 1745," from the Royal Exchange the 
same distance, and from Whitehall twelve miles and 
a half. The neighbourhood is now particularly 
respectable, but I grieve to say that the spot is marked 
on the maps of 1796 as " Little Hell," which seems to 
indicate that the character of the people living in the 
three houses apparently then standing here would not 
bear close inspection. With the " Angel " placed at 
one end, and this vestibule into Inferno situated at 
the other, Sutton seems to have been accorded 
exceptional privileges. 

" Cold Blow," which succeeds to Little Hell, is a 
tremendous transition, and well deserves its name, 
perched as it is on the shivery, bare, and windy heights 
that lead to Burgh Heath and Banstead Downs 
" famous," says an annotated map of 1716, " for its 
wholesome Air, once prescribed by Physicians as the 


Patients' last refuge." The feudal-looking wrought- 
iron gates newly built beside the road here, surmounted 
by a gorgeous shield of arms crested with a helmet and 
enveloped in mantling, form the entrance to Nork 
Park, the seat of one of the Column family, who have 
mustered very strongly in Surrey of late years. 

At the right-hand turning, in midst of a group of 
fir-trees, stands the prehistoric tumulus known to the 
rustics as "Tumble Beacon." " Tumble" is probably 
the rural version of " tumulus." 

Beyond this point, on a site now occupied by a 
cottage, stood the once-famed " Tangier " inn. 
Originally a private residence, the seat of Admiral 
Buckle,* who named it " Tangier," in memory of his 
cruises on the north coast of Africa, it became a house 
of call for coaches, and especially for post-chaises. 
Here, we are told, George the Fourth invariably halted 
for a glass of Miss Jeal's celebrated " alderbury " — 
that is to say elderberry-wine — " roking hot," to keep 
out the piercing cold, and Miss Jeal brought it forth 
with her own fair hands. Other travellers, who were 
merely persons, and not personages, had to be content 
with the less fair hands of the waiter. 

The " Tangier " was burnt down about 1874. For 
some years after its destruction a platform that led 
from the house to the roadside, on a level with the 
floors of the coaches and post-chaises, survived ; but 
only the cellars now remain. The woods at the back 
are, however, still locally known as " Tangier Woods." 

Bupgh Heath, at the summit of these downs, is a 
curious place called usually " Borough " Heath : it 
is in Domesday " Berge." As its name not obscurely 
hints, and the half-obliterated barrows show, it is a 
place of ancient habitation and sepulture ; but 
nowadays it is chiefly remarkable for the descendants 
of the original squatters of about a century ago, who, 
braving the cold of these heights, settled on what was 
then an exceedingly lonely heath and stole whatever 

• Matthew Buckle, Admiral of the Blue ; born 1716, died 1784. 


land they pleased. That was the origin of the hamlet 
of Burgh Heath. The descendants of those filibusters 
have in most cases rebuilt the original hovels, but it 
is still a somewhat forlorn place, made sordid by the 
tumbledown pigsties and sheds on the heath in which 
they have acquired a prescriptive freehold. 

Passing Lion Bottom, or Wilderness Bottom, we 
come to Tad worth Corner, past the grounds of Tadworth 
Court, late the seat of Lord Russell of Killowen, better 
known as Sir Charles Russell. He was created a 
Baron in 1894, on his becoming Lord Chief Justice ; 
but the title was — at his own desire — limited to a 
life-peerage, and consequently at his death in 1900 
became extinct. At Tadworth, in the horsey 
neighbourhood of Epsom, he was as much at home as 
in the Law Courts, and neither so judicial nor restrained, 
as those who remember his peppery temper and the 
objurgatory language of his " Here, you. where the 

are you coming to, you , 

you ! " will admit. There seems, in fact, an especial 
fitness in his residence on this Regency Road, for his 
speech was the speech rather of that, than of the more 
mealy mouthed Victorian, period. 

At Tadworth Court, where the ways divide, and a 
most picturesque view of long roads, dark fir trees, 
and a weird-looking windmill unfolds itself, formerly 
stood a toll-gate. A signpost directs on the right to 
Headley and Walton, and on the left to Reigate and 
Redhill, and a battered milestone which no one can 
read stands at the foot of it. The church spire on 
the left is that of Kingswood. 

From London to Reigate, through Sutton, is, 
according to Cobbett, " about as villainous a tract as 
England contains. The soil is a mixture of gravel and 
clay, with big yellow stones in it, sure sign of really 
bad land." The greater part of this is, of course, now 
covered by the suburbs of " the Wen," as Cobbett 
delighted to style London ; and it is both unknown to 
and immaterial to most people what manner of soil 
their houses are built on ; but the truth of Cobbett's 


observations is seen readily enough here, on these 
warrens, which owe their preservation as open spaces 
to that mixture, worthless to the farmer, and not 
worth the steaUng in those times when land could 
be stolen with impunity. 

Past the modern village of Kings wood, almost lost 
in, and certainly entirely overshadowed by, the wild 
heaths of Walton and Kingswood Warren the road 
comes at last to Reigate Hill, where, immediately past 
the suspension bridge that overhangs the cutting, it 
tilts very suddenly and alarmingly over the edge of 
the Downs. The suddenness of it makes the stranger 


gasp with iistonishment ; the beauty of that wonderful 
view from this very rim and edge of the hills compels 
his admiration. It is the climax up to which he has 
been toiling all these long, ascending gradients from 
Sutton ; and it is worth the toil. 

The old writers of road-books do more justice to 
this view than any modern writer dare. To them it 
was " a remarkably bold elevation, from whence is a 
delightful prospect of the South Downs in Sussex. 
But near the road, which is scooped out of the hill, 



the declivity is so steep and abrupt that the spectator 
cannot help being struck with terror, though softened 
by admiration. The Sublime and the Beautiful are 
here perfectly united ; imagination is fully exercised, 
and the mind delighted." 

How would this person have described the Alps ? 

A milestone just short of this drop — one of a series 
starting at Sutton Downs and dealing in fractions of 
miles — says, very curtly : " London 19, Sutton 8, 
Brighton 32f, Reigate If." 

""^sS — !* 


The suspension bridge, carried overhead, spanning 
the cutting made through the crest of the hill, is 
known to the rustics — who will always invent simple 
English words of one syllable, whenever possible, to 
take the place of difficult three-syllabled words of 
Latin extraction— as the " Chain Pier." It does not, 
as almost invariably is the case with these bridges, 
connect two portions of an estate severed by the cutting, 


but forms part of a public path which was cut through. 
It is very well worth the traveller's attention, for it 
joins the severed ends of no less a road than the ancient 
Pilgrims' Way, and is a very curious instance of 
modernity helping to preserve antiquity. The Way 
is clearly seen above, coming from Box Hill as a hollow 
road, crossing the bridge and going in the direction 
of Gatton Park, through a wood of beech trees. 

The roadway of Reigate Hill is made to wind 
circuitously, in an attempt to mitigate the severity 
of the gradient ; but for all the care taken, it remains 
one of the steepest hills in England, and is one of the 
very few provided with granite kerbs intended to ease 
the pull-up for horses. None but a very special fool 
among cyclists in the old days attempted to ride down 
the hill ; and many, even in these times of more 
efficient brakes, prefer to walk down. Only motor- 
cars, like the Gadarene swine of the Scriptures, 
" rushing violently down a steep place, '^ attempt it ; 
and those who are best acquainted with the hill live 
in daily expectation of a recklessly driven car spilling 
Over the rim. 


Reigate town lies at the foot, sheltered under this 
great shoulder of the downs ; a little town of consider- 
able antiquity and inconsiderable story. It is 
mentioned in Domesday Book, but under the now 
forgotten name of " Cherchefelle," and did not begin 
to assume the name of Reigate until nearly two 
hundred years later. 

Churchfield was at the time of the Norman conquest 
a manor in the possession of the widowed Queen, and 
was probably little more than an enclosed farm and 
manor-house situated in a clearing of the Holmesdale 
woods ; but it had not long passed into the hands of 
William de Varennes, who had married Gundrada the 


Conqueror's daughter and was one of his most intimate 
henchmen at the Battle of Hastings, before it became 
the site of the formidable Reigate, or Holm, Castle. 
The manors granted to William de Varennes compre- 
hended nearly the whole of Surrey, and included 
others in Sussex, Yorkshire, and Norfolk. Such were 
the splendours that fell to the son-in-law and the 
companion-in-arms of a successful invader. He 
became somewhat Anglicised under the title of Earl 
of Warenne, and the ancestor of a line of seven Earls, 
of whom the last died in 1347, when the family became 
firstly merged in that of the Fitzalans, then of the 
Mowbrays, and finally in that of the alternately 
absorbent and fissiparous Howards. 

Holm, or Reigate Castle, had little history of the 
warlike sort. It frowned terribly upon its sandstone 
ridge, but tamely submitted in 1216 when the foreign 
allies of the discontented subjects of King John 
approached : and when the seventh Earl, who had 
murdered Baron de la Zouche at Westminster, was 
attacked here by Prince Edward, he promptly made a 
grovelling surrender and paid the fine of 12,000 marks 
(equal to £24,000) demanded. In 1550, when Lam- 
barde wrote, only " the ruyns and rubbishe of an old 
castle which some call Homesdale " were left, and 
even those were cleared away by order of the Parliament 
in 1648. Now, after many centuries of change in 
ownership, the hill on which that fortress stood is 
contemptuously tunnelled, to give a more direct road 
through the town. 

In this connection, Cobbett, coming to Reigate 
through Sutton in 1823, is highly entertaining. The 
tunnel was then being made, and it did not please 
him. " They are," he vociferates, " in order to save 
a few hundred yards' length of road, cutting through 
a hill. They have lowered a little hill on the London 
side of Sutton. Thus is the money of the country 
actually thrown away : the produce of labour is taken 
from the industrious and given to the idlers. Mark 
the process ; the town of Brighton, in Sussex, fifty 


miles from the Wen, is on the seaside, and is thought 
by the stockjobbers to afford a salubrious air. It is 
so situated that a coach which leaves it not very early 
in the morning reaches London by noon ; and, starting 
to go back in two hours and a half afterwards, reaches 
Brighton not very late at night. Great parcels of 
stockjobbers stay at Brighton with the women and 
children. They skip backward and forward on the 
coaches, and actually carry on stock-jobbing in Change 
Alley, though they reside at Brighton. The place is, 
besides, a great resort with the xvhiskered gentry. 
There are not less than about twenty coaches that 
leave the Wen every day for this place ; and, there 
being three or four different roads, there is a great 
rivalship for the custom. This sets the people to 
work to shorten and to level the roads ; and here you 
see hundreds of men and horses constantly at work 
to make jDJeasant and quick travelling for the Jews 
and jobbers. The Jews and jobbers pay the turn- 
pikes, to be sure ; but they get the money from the 
land and labourers. They drain these, from John o' 
Groat's House to the Land's End, and they lay out 
some of the money on the Brighton roads." 

Cobbett is dead, and the Reform Act is an old story, 
but the Jews and the jobbers swarm more than 

The tunnel through the castle hill was made by 
consent of the then owner. Earl Somers, as a tablet 
informs all who care to know. The entrance towards 
the town is faced with white brick, in a style supposed 
to be Norman. Above are the grounds, now public, 
where a would-be mediaeval gateway, erected in 1777, 
quite illegitimately impresses many innocents, and 
below is the so-called Barons' Cave, an ancient excava- 
tion in the soft sandstone where the Barons are (quite 
falsely) said to have assembled in conclave before 
forcing their will upon King John at Runnymede. 
Unhappily for that tradition, the then Earl Warenne 
was a supporter of the tyrant king, and any reforming 
barons he might possibly have entertained at Reigate 

THE castlb: caves 


Castle would have been kept on the chain as enemies, 
and treated to the eold comfort of bread and water. 

There are deeper depths than these castle caves, 
for dungeon-like excavations exist beside and under- 


neath the tunnel ; but they are not so very terrible, 
exuding as they do strong vinous and spirituous 
odours, proving that the only prisoners languishing 
there are hogsheads and kilderkins. 


Reigate, dropping its intermediate name of 
Cherchefelle on Ridgegate, became variously Reigate, 
Riggate, and Reygate in the thirteenth century. The 
name obviously indicates a gate — that is to say, a 
road — over the ridge of the downs ; presumably that 
road upon which Gatton, the " gate-town," stood. 
Strongly supporting this theory, Wray Common and 
Park are found on the line of road between Reigate and 
Gatton. If we select " Reygate " from the many 
variants of the place-name, and place it beside that of 
Wray Common, we get at once the phonetic link. 

When Reigate lost the two members it sent to 
Parliament, it lost much more than the mere distinction 
of being represented. It lost free drinks and money to 
jingle in its pockets, for it was openly corrupt — in 
fact, neither better nor worse than most other 
constituencies. What else, when you consider it, 
could be expected when the franchise was so limited 
that the electors were a mere handful, and votes by 
consequence were individually valuable. In short, 
the best safeguard against bribery is to so increase the 
electorate that the purchase of votes is beyond the 
capacity of a candidate's pockets. 

Modern circumstances have, indeed, so wrought 
with coimtry towns of the Reigate type that they are 
merely the devitalised spooks of their former selves, 
and Reigate would long ere this have been on the verge 
of extinction, had it not been within the revivifying 
influence of the suburban area. It is due to the Wen, 
as Cobbett would call it, that Reigate is still at once so 
old-world and so prosperous. It is surrounded by 
semi-suburban estates, but is in its centre still the 
Reigate of that time when the coaches came through, 
when royalty and nobility lunched at the still-existing 
" White Hart," and when fifty miles made a long day's 

Reigate town was the property, almost exclusively, 
of the late Lady Henry Somerset. By direction of her 
heir, Somers Somerset, it was, in October, 1921, sold 
at auction in several lots. 


There are some in Reigate who dwell in imagination 
upon old times. Not by any means the obvious 
people, the clergy and the usual kidney ; they jfind 
existence there a vast yawn. The antiquarian taste 
revealed itself by chance to the present inquirer in the 
person of a policeman on duty by the tunnel, who 
knew all about Reigate's one industry of digging 
silv^er-sand, who could speak of the " Swan " inn 
having once possessed a gallows sign that spanned the 
road, and knew all about the red brick market-house 
or town hall being built in 1708 on the site of a 
pilgrims' chapel dedicated to St. Thomas a Becket. 
He could tell, too, that wonderful man, of a bygone 
militant parson of Reigate, who, warming to some 
dispute, took off his coat in the street and saying, " Lie 
there, divinity," handsomely thrashed his antagonist. 
" I like them old antidotes," said my constable ; and 
so do I. 


Reigate Church has been many times restored, and 
every time its monuments have suffered a general 
post ; so that scarce an one remains where it was 
originally placed, and very few are complete. 

The most remarkable monument of all, after having 
been removed from its original place in the chancel to 
the belfry, has now utterly vanished. It is no excuse 
that its ever having been placed in the church at all 
was a scandal and an outrage, for, being there, it should 
have been preserved, as in some sort an illustration of 
bygone social conditions. But the usual obliterators 
of history and of records made their usual clean sweep, 
and it has disappeared. 

It was a heart-shaped monument, inscribed, " Near 
this place heth Edward Bird, Esq., Gent. Dyed the 
23rd of February, 171f . His age 26," and was sur- 
mounted by a half-length portrait effigy of him in 
armour, with a full flowing wig ; a truncheon in his right 


hand, and in the background a number of miUtary 

The especial scandal attaching to the fact of this 
monument ever having been i)laced in the church 
arises from the fact that Edward Bird was hanged for 
murder. Some particulars are gleaned from one of 
the many catchpenny leaflets issued at the time by 
the Ordinary — that is to say, the Chaplain — of New- 
gate, who was never averse from adding to his official 
salary by writing the " last dying words " of interesting 
criminals ; but his flaring front pages were, at the best 
— like the contents bills of modern sensational evening 
newspapers — indifferent honest, and his account of 
Bird is meagre. 

It seems, collating this and other authorities, that 
this interesting young man had been given the 
advantages of " a Christian and Gentlemanlike 
Education," which in this case means that he had 
been a Westminster boy under the renowned Dr. 
Busby, and afterwards a scholar at Eton. This 
finished Christian then became a lieutenant in the 
Marquis of Winchester's Horse. He married when 
twenty years of age, and his wife died a year 
later, when he plunged into a dissolute life in 

One evening in September, 1718, he was driven 
" with a woman in a coach and a bottle of Champain 
wine " to a " bagnio " in Silver Street, Golden Square, 
and there " had the misfortune " to run a waiter, 
one Samuel Loxton, through the body with his sword. 
" G — d d — n you, I will murder you all," he is reported 
to have threatened, and a farrier of Putney, called at 
the subsequent trial, deposed to having once been 
run through the body by this martial spirit. 

Greatly to the surprise of himself and friends. 
Lieutenant Bird was not only arrested and tried, 
but found guilty and sentenced to death. The 
historian of these things is surprised, too ; for 
gentlemen of fashion were in those times very 
much what German officers became — privileged 


murderers — and waiters were earthworms. I cannot 
understand it at all. 

At any rate, Edward Bird took it ill and declined 
the ministrations of the Ordinary, saying " He was 
very bu/y, was to write Letters, expected Company, 
and such-like frivolous Excuses." The Ordinary does 
not tell us in so many words, but we may suspect that 
the condemned man told him to go to the Devil. He 
was, indeed, an altogether hardened sinner, and would 
not even go to chapel, and was so poor a sportsman 
that he tried to do the rabble of Tyburn out of the 
entertaining spectacle of his execution, taking poison 
and stabbing himself in several places on the eve of 
that interesting event. 

He seems to have been afraid of hurting himself, 
for he died neither of poison nor of wounds, and was 
duly taken to Tyburn in a handsome mourning coach, 
accompanied by his mother, by other Christians and 
gentlemen, by the Ordinary, and three other clergymen, 
to see him duly across the threshold into the other 
world. He stood an hour under the fatal tree, talking 
with his mother, and no hour of his life could have 
sped so swiftly. Then the chaplain sang a penitential 
psalm and the other divines prayed, and the candidate 
for the rope was made to repeat the Apostles' Creed, 
after which he called for a glass of wine. No wine 
being available, he took a pinch of snuff, bowed, 
and said, " Gentlemen, I wish your health," and then 
" was ty'd up, turned off, and bled very much at the 
Mouth or Nose, or both." 

The mystery of his being accorded a monument 
in Reigate Church is explained when we learn that 
his uncle, the Rev. John Bird, was both patron and 
vicar. A further inscription beyond that already 
quoted was once in existence, censuring the judge and 
jury who condemned him. Traditions long survived 
of his mother, on every anniversary of his execution, 
passing the whole day in the church, sorrowing. 

The date of the monument's disappearance is not 
clearly established, but old inhabitants of Reigate 



have recollections of the laughing workmen, during 
the rebuilding of the tower in 1874, throwing marble 
figures out of the windows, and speak of the fragments 
being buried in the churchyard. 

For the rest, Reigate Church is only of mild interest ; 
excepting, indeed, the parish library, housed over the 
vestry, containing among its seventeen hundred books 
many of great interest and variety. The collection 
was begun in 1701 by the then vicar. 

A little-known fact about Reigate is that the 
notorious Eugene Aram for a year lived here, in a 
cottage oddly named " Upper Repentance." 

The road leaving Reigate, by Parkgate and the 
Priory, passes a couple of cottages not in themselves 

remarkable but 
bearing a curious 
device intended to 
represent bats' 
Avings, and inscribed 
" J. T. 1815." They 
are known as 
" Bats wing Cott- 
ages," but what 
induced "J. T." to 
call them so, and 
even who he was, 
seems to be un- 

Over the rise of 
Cockshut Hill and 
through a wooded cutting the road comes to Wood- 
hatch and the " Old Angel " inn, where the turnpike- 
gate stood, and where a much earlier gate, indicated 
in the place-name, existed. 

Woodhatch, the gate into the woods, illustrates 
the ancient times when the De Warennes held the 
great Reigate, or Holm, Castle and much of the 
woodlands of Holmesdale. The name of Earlswood, 
significant to modern ears only of the great idiot 
asylum there, derives from them. Place-names down 



in these levels ending in " wood " recall the dense 
forests that once overspread Holmesdale : Ewood, 
Norwood, Charlwood, Hartswood, Hookwood — vast 
glades of oak and beech, where the hogs roamed and 
the prototypes of Gyrth, the swineherd, tended them, 
in the consideration of the Norman lords of little more 
value than the pigs they herded. The scattered " leys " 
— Horley, Crawley, Kennersley, and the like — allude 
to the clearings or pastures amid the forest. Many 
other entrances into those old bosquets may be traced 
on the map — Tilgate, Fay Gate, Monk's Gate and 
Newdigate among them ; but the woodlands have 
long been nothing but memories, and fields and 
meadows, flatness itself, stretch away on either side 
of the level road to, and beyond, Horley, with the 
river Mole sluggishly winding through them — a scene 
not unbeautiful in its placid way. 

The little hamlet of Sidlow Bridge, with its modern 
church, built in 1862, marks the point where the road, 
instead of continuing straight, along the flat, went 
winding off away to the right, seeking a route secure 
from the Mole floods, up Black Horse Hill. When the 
route was changed, and the " Black Horse " inn, by 
consequence, lost its custom, a newer inn of the same 
name was built at the cross-roads in the levels ; and 
there it stands to-day, just before one reaches Povey 
Cross and the junction of routes. 

Povey Cross, of whose name no man knows the 
derivation, leads direct past the tiny Kimberham, or 
Timberham, Bridge over the Mole, to Lowfield Heath, 
referred to in what, for some inscrutable reason, are 
styled the " Statutes at Large," as " Lovell " Heath. 
The place is in these days a modern hamlet, and the 
heath, in a strict sense, is to seek. It has been improved 
away by enclosure and cultivation, utterly and without 
remorse ; but the flat, low-lying land remains eloquent 
of the past, and accounts for the humorous error of 
some old maps which style it " Level Heath." 

The whole district, from Salfords, through Horley, 
to near Crawley, is at times little more than an inland 



sea, for here ooze and crawl the many tributaries of 
the Mole. The memorable floods of October, 1891, 
following upon a wet summer and autumnal weeks of 
rain, swelled the countless arteries of the Mole, and 
the highways became rushing torrents. Along the nut- 

brown flood floated the remaining apples from drowned 
orchards, with trees, bushes, and hurdles. Postmen on 
their rounds were reduced to wading, and thence to 
horseback and wheeled conveyances ; and Horley 
churchyard was flooded. 


A repetition of this state of things occurred in 
February, 1897, when the dedication of the new organ 
in the church of Lowfield Heath could not be performed, 
the roads being four feet under water. 


The traveller does not see the true inwardness of the 
Weald from the hard high road. Turn we, then at 
Povey Cross for a rustic interlude into the byways, 
making for Charlwood and Ifield. 

Few are those who find themselves in these lonely 
spots. Hundreds, nay, thousands are continually 
passing almost within hail of their slumberous sites, 
and have been passing for hundreds of years, yet they 
and their inhabitants doze on, and ever and again 
some cyclist or pedestrian blunders upon them by a 
fortunate accident, as, one may say, some unconscious 
Livingstone or Speke, discovering an unknown Happy 
Valley, and disturbs with a little ripple of modernity 
their uneventful calm. 

The emptiness of the three miles or so of main road 
between Povey Cross and Crawley is well exchanged 
for these devious ways leading along the valley of the 
Mole. A prettier picture than that of Charlwood 
Church, seen from the village street through a framing 
of two severely-cropped elms forming an archway 
across the road, can rarely be seen in these home 
counties, and the church itself is an ancient building 
of the eleventh century, with later windows, inserted 
when the Norman gloom of its interior assorted less 
admirably with a more enlightened time. In plan 
cruciform, with central tower and double nave, it is 
of an unusual type of village church, and presents 
many features of interest to the archaeologist, whose 
attention will immediately be arrested by the frag- 
ments of an immense and hideous fresco seen on the 
south wall. A late brass, now mural, in the chancel. 



dated 1553, is for Nicholas Sander and Alys his wife. 
These^anders, or, as they spelled their name variously, 
Saunder, held for many years the manor of Charlwood, 
and from an early period those of Purley and Sandersted 
— Sander's-stead, or dwelling. Sir Thomas Saunder, 
Remembrancer of the Exchequer in Queen Elizabeth's 
time, bequeathed his estates to his son, who sold the 

reversion of Purley in 1580. Members of the family, 
now farmers, still live in the parish where, in happier 
times, they ruled. 

One of the prettiest spots in Surrey is the tiny 
village of Newdigate, on a secluded winding road 
leading past a picturesque little imi, the " Surrey 
Oaks," fronted with aged trees. It is, perhaps, the 
loneliest place in the county, and is worth visiting, 



if only for a peep into the curious timber belfry of its 
little church, which contains a hoary chest, contrived 

3\ Gr-^er 

.>/ew3.Tqa^e Q\tir-ckG) 

out of a solid block of oak, and fastened with three 
ancient padlocks. 

But few go so far, and indeed the way by Ifield has 
its own interests and attractions. Here a primitive 


pavement or causeway is very noticeable, formed of 

a row of large flat blocks of stone, along the grassy 

margins of the ditches. This is a survival (not 

altogether without its uses, even now) of the time 


Essex ftdl of good housewyfes, 
Middlesex hill of stry ves, 
Kentshire hoot as fire, 
Sowseks full of dirt and mire 

was a saying with plenty of current meaning to it. 
In those days the Wealden clay asserted itself so 
unpleasantly that stepping-stones for pedestrians were 

The stones themselves have a particular interest, 
coming as they did from local quarries long since 
closed. They are of two varieties : one of a yellowish- 
grey ; the other, greatly resembling Purbeck marble, 
fossiliferous and of a light bluish tint. Charlwood 
Church itself is built of Charlwood stone. 

Ifield is just within the Sussex boundary. A 
beautiful way to it lies through the park, in whose 
woody drives the oak and holly most do grow. It 
has been remarked of this part of the Weald, that its 
soil is particularly favourable to the growth of the oak. 
Cobbett indeed says, "It is a county where, strictly 
speaking, only three things will grow well — -grass, 
wheat, and oak-trees ; " and it was long a belief 
that Sussex alone could furnish forth oak sufficient 
to build all the navies of Europe, notwithstanding the 
ravages among the forests made by the forges and 

In the church of St. Margaret, Ifield, whose 
somewhat unprepossessing exterior gives no hint 
of its inward beauty, is an oaken screen made from 
the wood of an old tree which stood for centuries 
on the Brighton Road at Lowfield Heath, where 
the boundary lines of Surrey and Sussex meet, and 
was cut down in the " forties." The tree was known 
far and wide as " County Oak." 

For the rest, the church is interesting enough by 
reason of its architecture to warrant some lingering 



here, but it is, beside this legitimate attraction, also 
very much of a museum of sepulchral curiosities. A 
brass for two brothers, with a curious metrical inscrip- 
tion, lurks in the gloom of the south aisle on the wall, 
and sundry grim and ghastly relics, in the shape of 
engraved coffin-plates, grubbed up by ghoulish 
antiquaries from the vaults below, form a perpetual 
memento mori from darksome masonry. On either side 
the nave, by the chancel, beneath the graceful arches 


of the nave arcade, are the recumbent effigies of Sir 
John de Ifield and his lady. The knight died in 1317. 
He is represented as an armed Crusader, cross-legged, 
" a position," to quote " Thomas Ingoldsby," " so 
prized by Templars in ancient and tailors in modern 
days." The old pews came from St. Margaret's, 
Westminster. But so dark is the church that details 
can only with difficulty be examined, and to emerge 
from the murk of this interior is to blink again in the 
light of day, however dull that day may be. 



From Ifield Church, a long and exceeding straight 
road leads in one mile to Ifield Hammer Pond. Here 
is one of the many sources of the little river Mole, 
whose trickling tributaries spread over all the 
neighbouring valley. The old mill standing beside the 


hatch bears on its brick substructure the date 1683, 
but the white-painted, boarded mill itself is evidently 
of much later date. 

Before a mill stood here at all, this was the site 


of one of the most important ironworks in Sussex, 
when Sussex iron paid for the smelting. 

Ironstone had been known to exist here even in the 
days of the Roman occupation, when Anderida, 
extending from the sea to London, was all one vast 
forest. Heaps of slag and cinders have been found, 
containing Roman coins and implements of contem- 
porary date, proving that iron was smelted here to 
some extent even then. But it was not until the latter 
part of the Tudor period that the industry attained 
its greatest height. Then, according to Camden, 
" the Weald of Sussex was full of iron-mines, and the 
beating of hammers upon the iron filled the neighbour- 
hood round about with continual noise." The iron- 
stone was smelted with charcoal made from the forest 
trees that then covered the land, and it was not until 
the first year or two of the last century that the 
industry finally died out. The last remaining iron- 
works in Sussex were situated at Ashburnham, and 
ceased working about 1820, owing to the inability 
of iron-masters to compete with the coal-smelted ore 
of South Wales. 

By that time the great forest of Anderida had 
almost entirely disappeared, which is not at all a 
wonderful thing to consider when we learn that one 
ironworks alone consumed 200,000 cords of wood 
annually. Even in Drayton's time the woods were 
already very greatly despoiled. 

Relics of those days are plentiful, even now, in the 
ancient farmhouses ; relics in the shape of cast-iron 
chimney-backs and andirons, or " fire-dogs," many of 
them very effectively designed ; but, of course, in 
these days of appreciation of the antique, numbers 
of them have been sold and removed. 

The water-power required by the ironworks was 
obtained by embanking small streams, to form ponds ; 
as here at I field, where a fine head of water is still 
existing. Very many of these " Hammer Ponds " 
remain in Sussex and Surrey, and were long so called 
by the rustics, whose unlettered and traditional 


memories were tenacious, and preserved local history 
much better than does the less intimate book-learning 
of the reading classes. But now that every plough- 
boy reads his " penny horrible," and every gaffer 
devours his Sunday paper, they have no memories 
for " such truck," and local traditions are fading. 

Ifield ironworks became extinct at an early date, 
but from a V'cry arbitrary cause. During the conflicts 
of the Civil War the property of Royalists was destroyed 
by the Puritan soldiery wherever possible ; and after 
the taking of Arundel Castle in 1643, a detachment of 
troops under Sir William Waller wantonly wrecked the 
works then situated here, since when they do not 
appear to have been at any time revived. 

It is a pretty spot to-day, and extremely quiet. 

From here Crawley is reached through Gossop's 


The way into Crawley along the main road, passing 
the modern hamlet of Lowfield Heath, is uneventful. 
The church, the " White Lion," and a few attendant 
houses stand on one side of the road, and on the other, 
by the farm or mansion styled Heath House, a sedgy 
piece of ground alone remains to show what the heath 
was like before enclosure. Much of the land is now 
under cultivation as a nursery for shrubs, and a bee- 
farm attracts the wayfarers' attention nearer Crawley, 
where another hamlet has sprung up. A mean little 
house called " Casa qucrca " — by which I suppose the 
author means Oak House — is " refinement," as 
imagined in the suburbs, and excites the passing sneer, 
" Is not the English language good enough ? " If the 
Italians will only oblige, and call their own " Bella 
Vistas " " Pretty View," and so forth, while we 
continue the reverse process here, we shall effect a 
fair exchange, and find at last an Old England over-sea. 


At the beginning of Crawley stands the " Sun " inn, 
and away at the other end is the " Half Moon " ; 
trivial facts not lost upon the guards and coachmen 
of the coaching age, who generally propounded the 
stock conundrum when passing through. " Why is 
Crawley the longest place in existence ? " Every one 
unfamiliar with the road " gave it up " ; when came 
the answer, " Because the sun is at one end and the 
moon at the other." It is evident that very small 
things in the way of jokes satisfied the coach-passengers. 

We have it, on the authority of writers who fared 
this way in early coaching days, that Crawley was a 
" poor place," by which we may suppose that they 
meant it was a village. But what did they expect — 
a city ? 

Crawley in these times still keeps some old-world 
features, but it has grown, and is still growing. Its 
most striking peculiarity is the extraordinary width 
of the road in midst of what I do not like to call a 
town, and yet can scarce term a village ; and the next 
most remarkable thing is the bygone impudence of 
some forgotten land-snatchers who seized plots in 
midst of this street, broad enough for a market-place, 
and built houses on them. By what slow, insensible 
degrees these sites, doubtless originally those of 
market-stalls, were stolen, records do not tell us ; but 
we may imagine the movable stalls replaced by fixed 
wooden ones, and those in course of time giving place 
to more substantial structures, and so forth, in the 
time-honoured way, until the present houses, placed 
like islands in the middle of the street, sealed and 
sanctified the long-drawn tale of grab. 

Even Crawley's generous width of roadway cannot 
have been an inch too wide for the traffic that crowded 
the village when it was a stage at which every coach 
stopped, when the air resounded with the guards' 
winding of their horns, or the playing of the occasional 
key-bugle to the airs of " Sally in our Alley " or 
Love's Young Dream." Then the " George " was the 
scene of a continual bustling, with the shouting of 


the ostlers, the chink and clashing of harness, and all 
the tumults of travelling, when travelling was no light 
affair of an hour and a fraction, railway time, but a 
real journey, of five hours. 

Now there is little to stir the pulses or make the 
heart leap. Occasionally some great cycle " scorch " 
is in progress, when whirling enthusiasts speed through 
the village on winged wheels beneath the sign of the 
" George " spanning the street and swinging in the 
breeze ; a sign on which the saintly knight wages 
eternal warfare with a blurred and very invertebrate 
dragon. Sometimes a driving match brings down 
sportsmen and bookmakers, and every now and again 
some one has a record to cut, be it in cycling, coaching, 
walking, or in wheelbarrow trundling ; and then the 
roads are peopled again. 

There yet remain a few ancient cottages in Crawley, 
and the grey, embattled church tower lends an assured 
antiquity to the view ; but there is, in especial, one 
sixteenth-century cottage, worthy notice. Its timbered 
frame stands as securely, though not so erect, as ever, 
and is eloquent of that spacious age when the Virgin 
Queen (Heaven help those who named her so !) rules 
the land. It is Sussex, realised at a glance. 

They are conservative folks at Crawley. When that 
ancient elm of theirs that stood directly below this old 
cottage had become decayed with lapse of years and 
failure of sap, they did not, even though its vast 
trunk obtrudes upon the roadway, cut it down and 
scatter its remains abroad. Instead, they fenced it 
around with as decorative a rustic railing as might 
well be contrived out of cut boughs, all innocent of 
the carpenter and still retaining their bark, and they 
planted the enclosure with flowers and tender saplings, 
so that this venerable ruin became a very attractive 
ruin indeed. 

Rowlandson has preserved for us a view of Crawley 
as it appeared in 1789, when he toured the road and 
sketched, while his companion, Henry Wigstead, took 
notes for his book, " An Excursion to Brighthelmstone." 



It is a work of the dreadfullest ditch-water duhiess, 
saved only by the artist's illustrations. That they 
should have lived, you who see the reproduction will 
not wonder. The old sign spans the way, as of yore, 
but Crawley is otherwise greatly changed. 

An odd fact, unknown to those who merely pass 
through the place, is that the greater part of 
" Crawley " is not in that parish at all, but in 
the adjoining parish of Ifield. Only the church 


and a few houses on the same side of the street belong 
to Crawley. 

In these later years the church, once kept rigidly 
locked, is generally open, and the celebrated inscription 
carved on one of the tie-beams of the nave is to be seen. 
It is in old English characters, gilded, and runs in this 
admonitory fashion : 

IJaa sn toflf betoar, for foarlblg goob raakgt^ man blfiube 
If foar be for folate comgt^ be ^gnbe 

When the stranger stands puzzling it out, unconscious 
of not being alone, it is sufficiently startling to hear 



the unexpected voice of the sexton, " be hynde," 
remarking that it is arnshunt." 

The sturdy old tower is crowned with a gilded 
weather vane representing Noah's dove returning to 
the Ark with the oHve-leaf, when the waters were 
abated from off the earth : a device pecuHarly 
appropriate, intentionally or not, to Crawley, over- 
looking the oft-flooded valley of the Mole. 

But the most interesting feature of this church is 
the rude representation of the Trinity carved on the 
western face of the tower : three awful figures of very 
ancient date, on a diminishing scale, built into fifteenth- 
century niches. Above, on the largest scale, is the 
Supreme Being, holding what seems to be intended 
for a wheel, one of the ancient symbols of eternity. 
The sculptor, endeavouring to realise the grovelling 
superstition of his remote age, has put his " fear of 
God," in a very literal sense, into the grim, truculent, 
merciless, all-judging smile of the image ; and thus, 
in enduring stone, we have preserved to us the terrified 
minds of the dark ages, when God, the loving Father, 
was non-existent, and was only the Judge, swift to 
punish. The other figures are merely like infantile 


There is but one literary celebrity whose name goes 
down to posterity associated with Crawley. At Vine 
Cottage, near the railway station, resided Mark Lemon, 
editor of Punch, who died here on May 20th, 1870. 
Since his time the expansion of Crawley has caused 
the house to be converted into a grocer's shop. 

The only other inhabitant of Crawley whose 
deeds informed the world at large of his name and 
existence was Tom Cribb, the bruiser. But though I 
lighted upon the statement of his residence here 
at one time, yet, after hmiting up details of 



his life and of the battles he 
fought, after pursuing him 
through the classic pages of 
" Boxiana " and the voluminous 
records of " Pugilistica," after 
consulting, too, that sprightly 
work " The Fancy " ; after all 
this I find no further mention 
of the fact. It was fitting, 
though, that the pugilist should 
have his home near Crawley 
Downs, the scene of so many of 
the Homeric combats witnessed 
by thousands upon thousands 
of excited spectators, from the 
Czar of Russia and the great 
Prince Regent, downwards 
to the lowest blackguards 
of the metropolis. An inspiring 
sight those Downs must have 
presented from time to 
time, when great multitudes — - 
princes, patricians, and 
plebeians of every description- 
hung with beating hearts and 
bated breath upon the per- 
formances of two men in a 

roped enclosure battering one another for so much 
a side. 

It is thus no matter for surprise that the Brighton 
Road, on its several routes, witnessed brilliant and 
dashing turn-outs, both in public coaches and private 
equipages, during that time when the last of the 
Georges flourished so flamboyantly as Prince, Prince 
Regent, and King. How else could it have been 
with the Court at one end of it and the metropolis 
at the other, and between them the rendezvous of all 
such as delighted in the " noble art " ? 

Many were the merry " mills " which " came off " 
at Crawley Downs, Copthorne Common, and Blindley 






Heath, attended by the Prince and his merry men, 
conspicuous among whom at different times were Fox, 
Lord Barrymore, Lord Yarmouth (" Red Herrings "), 
and Major George Hanger. As for the tappings of 
claret, the punchings of conks and bread-baskets, and 
the tremendous sloggings that went on in this neighbour- 
hood in those virile times, are they not set forth with 
much circumstantial detail in the pages of " Fistiana " 
and " Boxiana " ? There shall you read how the 
Prince Regent witnessed with enthusiasm such merry 
sets-to as this between Randall and Martin on Crawley 
Downs. " Boxiana " gives a full account of it, and is 
even moved to verse, in this wise : 






Come, won't you list unto my lay 
About the fight at Crawley, O ! . . . 

with the refrain — 

With his filaloo trillaloo. 
Whack, fal lal do dal dl de do ! 

For the number of rounds and such technical details 
the curious mav be referred to the classic pages of 
" Boxiana " itself. 

Martin, originally a baker, and thus of course 
familiarly known as the " Master of the Rolls," 
one of the heroes whom all these sporting blades 
went out to see contend for victory in the ring, 
died so recently as 1871. He had long retired 
from the P.R., and had, upon quitting it, followed 
the usual practice of retired pugilists, that is to 
say, he became a publican. He was landlord 
successively of the " Crown " at Croydon, and the 
" Horns " tavern, Kennington. 

As for details of this fight or that upon the same 
spot from which Hickman, " The Gas-Light Man," 


came off victor, they are not for these pages. How 
the combatants " fibbed " and " countered," and did 
other things equally abstruse to the average reader, 
you may, who care to, read in the pages of the 
enthusiastic authorities upon the subject, who spare 
nothing of all the blows given and received. 

This was fine company for the Heir-apparent to 
keep at Crawley Downs ; but see how picturesque he 
and the crowds that followed in his wake rendered 
those times. What diversions went forward on the 
roads — such roads as they were ! One chronicler of 
a fight here says, in all good faith, that on the morning 
following the " battle," the remains of several carriages, 
phaetons, and other vehicles were found bestrewing 
the narrow ways where they had collided in the 

The House of Hanover, which ended with the death 
of Queen Victoria, was not at any time largely endowed 
with picturesqueness, saving only in the gruesome 
picture afforded by the horrid legend which accounts 
for the family name of Guelph ; but the Regent was 
the great exception. He, at least, was picturesque ; 
and if there be any who choose to deny it, I will ask 
them how it comes that so many novelists dealing 
with historical periods have chosen the period of the 
Regency as so fruitful an era of romance ? The Prince 
endowed his time with a glamour that has lasted, and 
will continue unimpaired. It was he who gave a 
devil-me-care connotation to the words " Regent " 
and " Regency " ; and his wild escapades have 
sufficed to redeem the Georgian Era from the reproach 
of unrelieved dulness and greasy vulgarity. 

The reign of George the Third was the culmination 
of smug and unctuous bourgeois respectability at Court, 
from whose weary routine the Prince's surroundings 
were entirely different. Himself and his entourage 
were dissolute indeed, roystering, drinking, cursing, 
dicing, visiting prize-fights on these Downs of Crawley, 
and hail-fellow-well-met with the blackguards there 
gathered together. But whatever his surroundings, 


they were never dull, for which saving grace many 
sins may be excused him. 

Thackeray, in his " Four Georges," has little that 
is pleasant to say of any one of them, but is astonishingly 
severe upon this last, both as Prince and King. For a 
thorough-going condemnation, commend me to that 
book. To the faults of George the Fourth the author 
is very wide-awake, nor will he allow him any virtues 
whatsoever. He will not even concede him to be a 
man, as witness this passage : " To make a portrait 
of him at sight seemed a matter of small difficulty. 
There is his coat, his star, his wig, his countenance 
simpering under it : with a slate and a piece of chalk, 
I could at this very desk perform a recognisable 
likeness of him. And yet, after reading of him in 
scores of volumes, hunting him through old magazines 
and newspapers, having him here at a ball, there at a 
public dinner, there at races, and so forth, you find 
you have nothing, nothing but a coat and a wig, and 
a mask smiling below it ; nothing but a great simula- 

Poor fat Adonis ! 

But Thackeray was obliged reluctantly to acknow- 
ledge the grace and charm of the Fourth George, and 
to chronicle some of the kind acts he performed, 
although at these last he sneered consumedly, because, 
forsooth, those thus benefited were quite humble 
persons. It was not without reason that Thackeray 
wrote so intimately of snobs : in those unworthy 
sneers speaks one of the race. 

One curious little item of praise the author of the 
" Four Georges " was constrained to allow the Regent : 
" Where my Prince did actually distinguish himself was 
in driving. He drove once in four hours and a half 
from Brighton to Carlton House — fifty-six miles." * 

So the altogether British love of sport compelled 
this little interlude in the abuse levelled at the 
" simulacrum." 

• He really drove the other way ; from Carlton House to Brighton. 



Modern Crawley is disfigured by the abomination 
of a busy railway level-crossing that bars the main 
road and causes an immeasurable waste of public 
time and a deplorable flow of bad language. It affords 
a very good idea of the delays and annoyances at the 
old turnpike-gates, without their excuse for existence. 
Beyond it is the Park Lane or Belgravia of Crawley — 
the residential and superior modern district of country 
houses, each in midst of its own little pleasance. 

The cutting in the rise at Hog's Hill passed, the 
road goes in a long incline up to Hand Cross, by Pease 
Pottage, where there is now a post-office which spells 
the name wrongly, " Peas." No one knows how the 
place-name originated ; but legends explain where 
facts are wanting, and tell variously how soldiers in 
the old days were halted here on their route-marching 
and fed with " pease-pottage," the old name for 
pease-pudding ; or describe how prisoners on the 
cross-roads, on their way to trial at the assizes, once 
held at Horsham and East Grinstead alternately, were 
similarly refreshed. Formerly called Pease Pottage 
(iate, from a turnpike-gate that spanned the Horsham 
road, the " Gate " has latterly been dropped. It is 
a pretty spot, with a triangular green and the old 
" Black Swan " inn still standing at the back. The 
green is not improved by the recent addition of a 
huge and ugly signboard, advertising the inn as an 
" hotel." The inquiring mind speculates curiously as 
to whether the District Council (or whatever the local 
governing body may be) is doing its duty in allowing 
such a flagrant \'ulgarity, apart from any question 
of legal rights, on common land. Indeed, the larger 
question arises, in the gross abuse of advertising 
notice-boards on this road in particular, and along 
others in lesser degree, as to whether the shameful 
defacement of natural scenery by such boards erected 
on land public or private ought not to be suppressed 
by law. Nearer Brighton, the beautiful distant views 


of the South Downs are utterly damned by gigantic 
black hoardings painted in white letters, trumpeting 
the advantages ot" the motor garage of an hotel which 
here, at least, shall not be named. Much has been 
written about the abuse of advertising in America, 
but Englishmen, sad to say, have in these latter days 
outdone, and are outdoing, those crimes, while America 
itself is retrieving its reputation. 

This is the Forest Ridge of Sussex, where the Forest 
of St. Leonards still stretches far and wide. Away 
for miles on the left hand stretch the lovely beech- 
woods and the hazel undergrowths of Tilgate, Balcombe, 
and Worth, and on the right the little inferior wood- 
lands extending to Horsham. The ridge is, in addition, 
a great watershed. From it the Mole and the Med way 
flow north, and the Arun, the Adur, and the Sussex 
Ouse south, towards the English Channel. Hand 
Cross is the summit of the ridge, and the way to it is 
coming either north or south, a toilsome drag. 

At Tilgate Forest Row the scenery becomes park- 
like, laurel hedges lining the way, giving occasional 
glimpses of fine estates to right and left. Here the 
coachmen used to point out, with becoming awe, the 
country house where Fauntleroy, the banker, lived, 
and would tell how he indulged in all manner of unholy 
orgies in that gloomy-looking mansion in the 

Henry Fauntleroy was only thirty-nine years of age 
when he met the doom then meted out to forgers. 
As partner in the banking firm of Marsh, Sibbald & Co., of 
Berners Street, he had entire control of the firm's Stock 
Exchange business, and, unknown to his partners, 
had for nine years pursued a consistent course of 
illegally selling the securities belonging to customers 
— forging their signatures to transfers. Paying the 
interest and dividends as usual, the frauds, amounting 
in all to £70,000, might have remained undiscovered 
for many years longer ; but the credit of the 
bank, long in a tottering condition, was exhausted in 
September, 1824, when all was disclosed. Fauntleroy 


was arrested on the 11th, and on the 14th the bank 
suspended payment. 

The failure of the bank was largely due to the 
extravagance of the partners, Fauntleroy himself 
living in fine style as a country gentleman ; but the 
scandalous stories current at the time as to his mode 
of life were quite disproved, while the partners were 
clearly shown to have been entirely ignorant of the 
state of their affairs, which acquits them of complicity, 
though it does not redound to their credit as business 
men. Fauntleroy readily admitted his guilt, and 
added that he acted thus to prop up the long-standing 
instability of the firm. He was tried at the Old Bailey 
October 30th, 1824, sentenced to death, and executed 
November 30th, in the presence of a crowd of 200,000 
persons. He was famed among connoisseurs for the 
excellence of his claret, and would never disclose its place 
of origin. Friends who visited him 'in the condemned 
cell begged him to confide in them, but he would never 
do so, and when he died the secret died with him. 

No one has ever claimed acquaintance with the 
ghost of Fauntleroy, with or without his rope ; but 
the road to Hand Cross has long enjoyed — or been 
afflicted with — the reputation of being haunted. The 
Hand Cross ghost is, by all accounts, an extremely 
eccentric, but harmless spook, with peculiar notions 
in the matter of clothes, and given, when the turnpike- 
gate stood here, to monkey-tricks with bolts and bars, 
whereby pikemen were not only scared, but were losers 
of sundry tolls. Evidently that sprite was the way- 
farers' friend. 

" Squire Powlett " is another famous phantom of 
this forest-side, and is more terrifying, being headless, 
and given to the hateful practice of springing up 
behind the horseman who ventures this way when 
night has fallen upon the glades, riding with him to 
the forest boundary. Motorists and cyclists, however, 
do not seem to have been troubled. Possibly they 
have a turn of speed quite beyond the ix)wers of such 
an old-fashioned spook. 


Why " Squire Powlett " should haunt these nocturnal 
glades is not so easily to be guessed. He was not, so 
far as can be learned, an evildoer, and he certainly was 
not beheaded. He was that William Powlett, a 
captain in the Horse Grenadiers and a resident in the 
Forest of St. Leonards, who seems to have led an 
exemplary life, and died in 1746, and is buried under 
an elaborate monument in West Grinstead Church. 


Hand Cross is a settlement of forty or fifty houses, 
situated where several roads meet, in this delightful 
land of forests. Its name derives, of course, from 
some ancient signpost, or combination of signpost 
and wayside cross, existing here in pre-Reformation 
times, on the lonely cross-roads. No houses stood 
here then, and Slaugham village, the nearest habitation 
of man, was a mile distant, at the foot of the hill, 
where, very little changed or not at all, it may still 
be sought. Slaugham parish is very extensive, 
stretching as far as Crawley ; and the hamlet of Hand 
Cross, within it, although now larger than the parent 
village itself, is only a mere mushroom excrescence 
called into existence by the road travel of the last 
two centuries. 

It is the being on the main road, and on the junction 
of several routes, that has made Hand Cross what 
it is to-day and has deposed Slaugham itself ; just as 
in towns a by-street being made a main thoroughfare 
will make the fortunes of the shops in it and perhaps 
ruin those of some other route. 

Not that Hand Cross is great, or altogether pleasing 
to the eye ; for, after all, it is a parvetiu of a place, 
and lacks the Domesday descent of, for instance, 
Cuckfield. Now, the parvenu, the man of his hands, 
may be a very estimable fellow, but his raw prosperity 
grates upon the nerves. So it is with Hand Cross, for 


its prosperity, which has not waned with the coaching 
era, has incited to the building of cottages of that 
cheap and yellow brick we know so well and loathe 
so much. Also, though there is no church, there are 
two chapels ; one of retiring position, the other 
conventicle of aggressive and red, red brick. One 
could find it in one's heart to forgive the yellow brick ; 
but this red, never. In this ruddy building is a 
harmonium. On Sundays the wail of that instrument 
and the hooting and ting, tinging of cyclorns and 
cycling gongs, as cyclists foregather by the " Red 
Lion," are the most striking features of the place. 

The " Red Lion " is of greater interest than all 
other buildings at Hand Cross. It stood here in 
receipt of coaching custom through all the roystering 
days of the Regency as it stands now, prosperous at 
the hands of another age of wheels. Shergold tells us 
that its landlords in olden times knew more of smuggling 
than hearsay, and dispensed from many an anker of 
brandy that had not rendered duty. 

At Hand Cross the ways divide, the Bolney and 
Hickstead route, opened in 1813, branching off to the 
right and not merely providing a better surface, but, 
with a straighter course, saving from one and a half 
to two miles, and avoiding some troublesome rises, 
becoming in these times the " record route " for 
cyclists, pedestrians, and all who seek to speed between 
London and Brighton in the quickest possible time. 
It rejoins the classic route at Pyecombe. 

For the present we will follow the older way, by 
Cuckfield, down to Staplefield Common. A lovely 
vale opens out as one descends the southern face of 
the watershed, with an enchanting middle distance 
of copses, cottages, and winding roads, the sun slanting 
on distant ponds, or transmuting commonplace 
glazier's work into sparkling diamonds. 

At the foot of the hill is Sta])lcfield Common, bisected 
by the highway, with recent cottages and modern 
church, and in the loreground the " Jolly Farmers " 
inn. But where are the famous cherry-trees of 


Staplefield, under whose boughs the coach, passengers 
of a century ago feasted off the " black-hearts " ; 
where are the " Dun Cow " and its equally famous 
rabbit-puddings and its pretty Miss Finch ? Gone, 
as utterly as though they had never been. 

Three miles of oozy hollows and rises covered with 
tangled undergrowths of hazels lead past Slough 
Green and Whiteman's Green to Cuckfield. From the 
hillsides the great Ouse Valley Viaduct of the Brighton 
line, down towards Balcombe and Ardingly, is seen 
stalking across the low-lying meadows, mellowed by 
distance to the romantic similitude of an aqueduct of 
ancient Rome. 

Plentiful traces are yet visible of the rugged old 
hollow lane that was the precursor of the present road. 
In places it is a wayside pool ; in others a hollow, 
grown thickly with trees, with tree-roots, gnarled and 
fanglike, clutching in desperate hold its crumbling 
banks. The older rustics know it, if the younger and 
the passing stranger do not : they tell you " 'tis wheer 
th' owd hroad tarned arff." 


The pleasant old town of Cuckfield stands on no 
railway, and has no manufactures or industries of any 
kind ; and since the locomotive ran the coaches off 
the road has been a veritable Sleepy Hollow. It was 
not always thus, for in those centuries — from the 
fourteenth until the early part of the eighteenth — 
when the beds of Sussex iron-ore were worked and 
smelted on the spot, the neighbourhood of Cuckfield 
was a Bldck Country, given over to the manufacture 
of ironware, from cannon to firebacks. 

All this was so long ago that nature has healed the 
scars made by that busy time. Wooded hills replace 
the uplands made bare by the smelters, the cinder- 
heaps and mounds of slag are hidden under pastures, 


the " hammer-ponds " of the smelteries and foundries 
have become the resorts of artists seeking the 
picturesque, and the descendants of the old iron- 
masters, the Burrells and the Sergisons, have for 
generations past been numbered among the county 

Cuckfield very narrowly escaped being directly 
on the route of the Brighton railway, but it pleased 
the engineers to bring their line no nearer than Hay- 
ward's Heath, some two miles distant. They built a 
station there, on the lone heath, " for Cuckfield," 
with the result, sixty years later, that the sometime 
solitude is a town and still growing, while Cuckfield 
declines. Hayward's Heath, curiously enough, is, 
or was until December, 1894, in the parish of Cuckfield, 
but the time is at hand when the two will be joined 
by the spread of that railway upstart ; and then will 
be the psychological moment for abolishing the name 
of Hayward's Heath — which is a shocking stumbling- 
block for the aitchless — and adopting that of the 
parental " Cookfield." 

Meanwhile, I shall drop no sentimental tears over 
the chance that Cuckfield lost, sixty years ago, of 
becoming a railway junction and a modern town. Of 
junctions and mushroom towns we have a sufficiency, 
but of surviving sweet old country townlets very few. 

To see Cuckfield thoroughly demands some little 
leisure, for although it is small one must needs have 
time to assimilate the atmosphere of the place, if it is 
to be appreciated at its worth ; from the grey old 
church with its tall shingled spire and its monuments 
of Burrells and Sergisons of Cuckfield Place, to the 
staid old houses in the quiet streets, and those two fine 
old coaching inns, the " Talbot " and the " King's 
Head." Rowlandson made a picture of the town in 
1789, and it is not wholly unlike that, even now, but 
where is that Fair we see in progress in his spirited 
rendering ? Gone, together with the smart fellow 
driving the curricle, and all the other figures of that 
scene, into the forgotten. There, in one corner, you 


see the Recruiting Sergeant and the drummer, 
impressing with military glory a typical smock- 
frocked Hodge, gaping so outrageously that he seems 
to be opening his face rather than merely his mouth ; 
the artist's idea seems to have been that, like a dolphin, 
he would swallow anything, either in the way of food 
or of stories. There are no full-blooded Sergeant Kites 
and gaping yokels nowadays. 

Cuckfield is evidently feeling, more and more, the 
altered condition of affairs. Motorists, who are 
supposed to bring back prosperity to the road, do 
nothing of the kind on the road to Brighton ; for those 
who live at Brighton or London merely want to reach 
the other end as quickly as possible, and, with a legal 
limit up to twenty miles an hour, can cover the 
distance in two hours and a half, and, with an occasional 
illegal interval, easily in two hours. Except in case 
of a breakdown, the wayside hostelries do not often 
see the colour of the motorists' money, but they smell 
the stink, and are choked with the dust of them, and 
landlords and every one else concerned would be only 
too glad if the project for building a road between 
London and Brighton, exclusively for motor traffic, 
w^ere likely to be realised. Then ordinary users of the 
highway might once more be able to discern the 
natural scenery of the road, at present obscured with 

The text for these remarks is furnished by the 
recent closing, after a hundred and fifty years or more, 
of the once chief inn of Cuckfield : the fine and stately 
" Talbot,'.' now empty and " To Let " ; the hospitable 
quotation " You're welcome, what's your will," from 
The Merry Wives of Windsor on its fanlight, reading 
like a bitter mockery. 

The interior of Cuckfield Church is crowded with 
monuments of the Sergisons and the Burrells. Pride 
of place is given in the chancel to the monument of 
Charles Sergison, who died in 1732, aged 78. It is a 
very fine white marble monument, with a figure of 
Truth gazing into her mirror, and holding with one 


hand a medallion partly supported by a Cupid, 
displaying a portrait of the lamented Sergison, who, 
we learn from a sub-acid inscription, was 
" Commissioner of the Navy forty-eight years, till 
1719, to the entire satisfaction of the Kjng and his 
Ministers." " The civil government of the Navy then 
being put into military hands, he was esteemed by 
them not a fit person to serve any longer." He was, 
in short, like those " rulers of the Queen's (or King's) 
Navee " satirised by Sir W. S. Gilbert in modern 
times, and " never went to sea." At the period of his 
compulsory retirement it seems to have rather belatedly 
occurred to the authorities that such an one could not 
be well acquainted with the needs of the Navy ; so 
the " Capacity, Penetration, exact Judgment " of this 
" true patriot " were shelved ; but, at any rate, he had 
had his whack, and it was surely high time for the 
exact judgment, true patriotism, capacity and 
penetration of others to have a chance of making 
something out of the nation. 

A few monuments are hidden behind the organ, 
among them one to Guy Carleton, " son of George, 
Lord Bishop of Chichester." He, it seems, " died of 
a consumption, cbbcxxiv," which appears to be the 
highly esoteric way of writing 1624. " Mors vitie 
initium " he tells us, and illustrates it with the pleasing 
fancy of a skull mounted on an hour-glass, with ears 
of wheat sprouting from the eyeless sockets. Other 
equally pleasant devices, encircled with fragments of 
Greek, are plentiful, the whole concluding with the 
announcement that " The end of all things is at hand." 
Holding that opinion, it would seem to have been 
hardly worth while to erect the monument, but in the 
result it survives to show what a very gross mistake 
he made. 

Two illustrations of the quiet annals of Cuckfield, 
widely different in point of time, are the old clock and 
the wall-plate memorial to one Frank Bleach of the 
Royal Sussex Volunteer Company, who died at 
Bloemfontein in 1901. The ancient hand-wrouffht 

" ROOKWOOD " 200 

clock, made in 1667 by Isaac Lcney, probably of 
Cuckfield, finally stopped in 1867, and was taken clown 
in 1873. After lying as lumber in the belfry for many 
years, it was in 1904 fixed on the interior wall of the 


Cuckfield Place, acknowledged by Harrison 
Ainsworth to be the original of his " Rookwood," 
stands immediately outside the town, and is visible, 
in midst of the park, from the road. That romantic 
home of ghostly tradition is fittingly approached by a 
long and lofty avenue of limes, where stands the 
clock-tower entrance-gate, removed from Slaugham 

Beyond it the picturesquely broken surface of the 
park stretches, beautifully wooded and populated with 
herds of deer, the grey, many-gabled mansion looking 
down upon the whole. 

" Rookwood," the fantastic and gory tale that first 
gave Harrison Ainsworth a vogue, was commenced in 
1831, but not completed until 1834. Ainsworth died 
at Reigate, January 3, 1882. Thus in his preface he 
acknowledges his model : 

" The supernatural occurrence forming the ground- 
work of one of the ballads which I have made the 
harbinger of doom to the house of Rookwood, is 
ascribed by popular superstition to a family resident 
in Sussex, upon whose estate the fatal tree (a gigantic 
lime, with mighty arms and huge girth of trunk, as 
described in the song) is still carefully preserved. 
Cuckfield Place, to which this singular piece of timber 
is attached, if, I may state for the benefit of the curious, 
the real Rookwood Hall ; for I have not drawn upon 
imagination, but upon memory in describing the 
seat and domains of that fated family. The general 



features of the venerable structure, several of its 
chambers, the old garden, and, in particular, the 
noble park, with its spreading prospects, its pifcturesque 
views of the hall, ' like bits of Mrs. Radcliffe ' (as 
the poet Shelley once observed of the same scene), 
its deep glades, through which the deer come lightly 



tripping down, its uplands, slopes, brooks, brakes, 
coverts, and groves are carefully delineated." 

" Like Mrs. Radcliffe ! " That romance is indeed 
written in the peculiar convention, which obtained 
with her, with Horace Walpole, with Maturin, and 
" Monk " Lewis ; a convention of Gothic gloom and 
superstition, delighting in gore and apparitions, 
responsible for the " Mysteries of Udolpho, " 
"The Italian," "The Monk," and other highly 
seasoned reading of the early years of the nineteenth 
century, Ainsworth deliberately modelled his manner 
upon Mrs. Radcliffe, changing the scenes of his 
desperate deeds from her favourite Italy to our own 
land. His pages abound in apparitions, death- 
watches, highwaymen, " pistols for two and breakfasts 
for one," daggers, poison-bowls, and burials alive, and, 




with a little literary ability added to his horribles, his 
would be a really hair-raising romance. But the blood 
he ladles out so plentifully is only coloured water; 
his spectres are only illuminated turnips on 
broomsticks ; his verses so deplorable, his witticisms 
so hobnailed that even schoolboys refuse any longer 



From the Frater portrait. 

to be thrilled. He " wants to make yer blood run 
cold," but he not infrequently raises a hearty laugh 
instead. It would be impossible to burlescpie " Rook- 
wood " ; it burlesques itself, and shall be allowed to 


do so here, from the point where Alan Rookwood 
visits the family vault, to his tragic end : 

" He then walked beneath the shadow of one of 
the yews, chanting an odd stanza or so of one of his 
wild staves, wrapped the while, it would seem, in 
affectionate contemplation of the subject-matter of 
his song : 


* ^Metuendaque succo 


A NOXIOUS tree is the churchyard yew. 
As if from the dead its sap it drew ; 
Dark are its branches, and dismal to see. 
Like plumes at Death's latest solemnity. 
Spectral and jagged, and black as the wings 
Which some spirit of ill o'er a sepulchre flings : 
Oh ! a terrible tree is the churchyard yew ; 
Like it is nothing so grimly to view. 

Yet this baleful tree hath a core so sound. 
Can nought so tough in a grove be found : 
From it were fashioned brave English bows. 
The boast of our isle, and the dread of its foes. 
For our sturdy sires cut their stoutest staves 
From the branch that hung o'er their fathers' graves ; 
And though it be dreary and dismal to view. 
Staunch at the heart is the churchyard yew. 

*' His ditty concluded, Alan entered the church, 
taking care to leave the door slightly ajar, in order 
to facilitate his grandson's entrance. For an instant 
he lingered in the chancel. The yellow moonlight 
lell upon the monuments of his race ; and, directed 
by the instinct of hate, Alan's eye rested upon the 
gilded entablature of his perfidious brother Reginald, 
and muttering curses, ' not loud, but deep,' he passed 
on. Having lighted his lantern in no tranquil mood, 
he descended into the vault, observing a similar 
caution with respect to the portal of the cemetery, 
which he left partially unclosed, with the key in the 
lock. Here he resolved to abide Luke's coming. The 
reader knows what probability there was of his 
expectations being realised. 


" For a while he paced the tomb, wrapped in gloomy 
meditation, and pondering, it might be, upon the 
result of Luke's expedition, and the fulfilment of his 
own dark sehemes, scowling from time to time beneath 
his bent eyebrows, counting the grim array of coffins, 
and noticing, with something like satisfaction, that 
the shell which contained the remains of his daughter 
had been restored to its former position. He then 
bethought him of Father Checkley's midnight intrusion 
upon his conference with Luke, and their apprehension 
of a supernatural visitation, and his curiosity was 
stimulated to ascertain by what means the priest had 
gained admission to the spot unperceived and unheard. 
He resolved to sound the floor, and see whether any 
secret entrance existed ; and hollowly and dully did 
the hard flagging return the stroke of his heel as he 
pursued his scrutiny. At length the metallic ringing 
of an iron plate, immediately behind the marble effigy 
of Sir Ranulph, resolved the point. There it was that 
the priest had found access to the vault ; but 
Alan's disappointment was excessive when he 
discovered that this plate was fastened on the under- 
side, and all communication thence with the church- 
yard, or to wherever else it might conduct him, cut 
off ; but the present was not the season for further 
investigation, and tolerably pleased with the discovery 
he had already made, he returned to his silent march 
around the sepulchre. 

" At length a sound, like the sudden shutting of the 
church door, broke upon the profound stillness of the 
holy edifice. In the hush that succeeded a footstep 
was distinctly heard threading the aisle. 

" ' He comes — he comes ! ' exclaimed Alan joyfully ; 
adding, an instant after, in an altered voice, ' but he 
comes alone.' 

" The footstep drew near to the mouth of the 
vault — it was upon the stairs. Alan stepped forward 
to greet, as he supposed, his grandson, but started 
back in astonishment aiul dismay as he encountered 
in his stead Lady Rook wood. Alan retreated, while 


the lady advanced, swinging the iron door after her, 
which closed with a trenaendous clang. Approaching 
the statue of the first Sir Ranulph she passed, and 
Alan then remarked the singular and terrible expression 
of her eyes, which appeared to be fixed upon the statue, 
or upon some invisible object near it. There was 
something in her whole attitude and manner calculated 
to impress the deepest terror on the beholder, and 
Alan gazed upon her with an awe which momently 
increased. Lady Rookwood's bearing was as proud 
and erect as we have formerly described it to have 
been, her brow was as haughtily bent, her chiselled 
lip as disdainfully curled ; but the staring, changeless 
eye, and the deep-heaved sob which occasionally 
escaped her, betrayed how much she was under the 
influence of mortal terror. Alan watched her in 
amazement. He knew not how the scene was likely 
to terminate, nor what could have induced her to 
visit this ghostly spot at such an hour and alone ; but 
he resolved to abide the issue in silence — profound as 
her own. After a time, however, his impatience got 
the better of his fears and scruples, and he spoke. 

" ' What doth Lady Rookwood in the abode of the 
dead ? ' asked he at length. 

" She started at the sound of his voice, but still 
kept her eye fixed upon the vacancy. 

" ' Hast thou not beckoned me hither, and am I 
not come ? ' returned she, in a hollow tone. ' And 
now thou askest wherefore I am here. I am here 
because, as in thy life I feared thee not, neither in 
death do I fear thee. I am here because ' 

" ' What seest thou ? ' interrupted Alan, with ill- 
suppressed terror. 

" ' What see I — ha — ha ! ' shouted Lady Rookwood, 
amidst discordant laughter ; ' that which might 
appal a heart less stout than mine — a figure anguish- 
writhen, with veins that glow as with a subtle and 
consuming flame. A substance, yet a shadow, in thy 
living likeness. Ha — frown if thou wilt ; I can 
return thy glances.' 


(( I 

Where dost thou see this vision ? ' demanded Alan. 

" ' Where ? ' echoed Lady Rookwood, becoming 
for the first time sensible of the presence of a stranger. 
' Ha — who are you that question me ? — what are 
you ? — speak ! ' 

" ' No matter who or what I am,' returned Alan ; 
' I ask you what you behold ? ' 

" ' Can you see nothing ? ' 

" ' Nothing,' replied Alan. 

" ' You knew Sir Piers Rookwood ? ' 

Is it he ? ' asked Alan, drawing near her. 
It is,' replied Lady Rookwood ; ' I have followed 
him hither, and I will follow him whithersoever he leads 
me, were it to- ' 

" ' What doth he now ? ' asked Alan ; ' do you 
see him still ? ' 

" ' The figure points to that sarcophagus,' returned 
Lady Rookwood — ' can you raise up the lid ? ' 

" ' No,' replied Alan ; ' my strength will not avail 
to lift it.' 

" ' Yet let the trial be made,' said Lady Rookwood ; 
' the figure points there still — my own arm shall aid 

" Alan watched her in dumb wonder. She advanced 
towards the marble monument, and beckoned him to 
follow. He reluctantly complied. Without any 
expectation of being able to move the ponderous lid 
of the sarcophagus, at Lady Rookwood's renewed 
request he applied himself to the task. What was his 
surprise when, beneath their united efforts, he found 
the ponderous slab slowly revolve upon its vast 
hinges, and, with little further difficulty, it was com- 
pletely elevated, though it still required the exertion 
of all Alan's strength to prop it open and prevent its 
falling back. 

" ' What does it contain ? ' asked Lady Rookwood. 

" ' A warrior's ashes,' returned Alan. 

" ' There is a rusty dagger upon a fold of faded 
linen,' cried Lady Rookwood, holding down the 


" ' It is the weapon with which the first dame of 
the house of Rookwood was stabbed,' said Alan, with 
a grim smile : 

' Which whoso findeth in the tomb 
Shall clutch until the hour of doom ; 
And when 'tis grasped by hand of clay 
The curse of blood shall pass away. 

So saith the rhyme. Have you seen enough ? ' 

" ' No,' said Lady Rookwood, precipitating herself 
into the marble coffin. ' That weapon shall be mine.' 

" ' Come forth — come forth,' cried Alan. ' My arm 
trembles — I cannot support the lid.' 

" ' I will have it, though I grasp it to eternity,' 
shrieked Lady Rookwood, vainly endeavouring to 
wrest away the dagger, which was fastened, together 
with the linen upon which it lay, by some adhesive 
substance to the bottom of the shell. 

" ' At this moment Alan Rookwood happened to 
cast his eye upward, and he then beheld what filled 
him with new terror. The axe of the sable statue was 
poised above its head, as in the act to strike him. 
Some secret machinery, it was evident, existed between 
the sarcophagus lid and this mysterious image. But 
in the first impulse of his alarm Alan abandoned his 
hold of the slab, and it sunk slowly downwards. He 
uttered a loud cry as it moved. Lady Rookwood 
heard this cry. She raised herself at the same moment 
— the dagger was in her hand — she pressed it against 
the lid, but its downward force was too great to be 
withstood. The light was within the sarcophagus and 
Alan could discern her features. The expression was 
terrible. She uttered one shriek, and the lid closed 
for ever. 

" Alan was in total darkness. The light had been 
enclosed with Lady Rookwood. There was something 
so horrible in her probable fate that even he shuddered 
as he thought upon it. Exerting all his remaining 
strength, he essayed to raise the lid ; but now it was 
more firmly closed than ever. It defied all his power. 


Once, for an instant, he fancied that it yielded to his 
straining sinews, but it was only his hand that slided 
upon the surface of the marble. It w^as fixed — 
immovable. The sides and lid rang with the strokes 
which the unfortunate lady bestowed upon them with 
the dagger's point ; but these sounds were not long 
heard. Presently all was still ; the marble ceased to 
vibrate with her blows. Alan struck the lid with his 
knuckles, but no response was returned. All was 

" He now turned his attention to his own situation, 
which had become sufficiently alarming. An hour 
must have elapsed, yet Luke had not arrived. The 
door of the vault was closed — the key was in the lock, 
and on the outside. He was himself a prisoner within 
the tomb. What if Luke should not return ? What if 
he were slain, as it might chance, in the enterprise ? 
That thought flashed across his brain like an electric 
shock. None knew of his retreat but his grandson. 
He might perish of famine within this desolate vault. 
" He checked this notion as soon as it was formed — 
it was too dreadful to be indulged in. A thousand 
circumstances might conspire to detain Luke. He was 
sure to come. Yet the solitude, the darkness, was 
awful, almost intolerable. The dying and the dead 
were around him. He dared not stir. 

" Another hour — an age it seemed to him — had 
passed. Still Luke came not. Horrible forebodings 
crossed him ; but he would not surrender himself to 
them. He rose, and crawled in the direction, as he 
supposed, of the door — fearful even of the stealthy 
sound of his own foorsteps. He reached it, and his 
heart once more throbbed with hope. He bent his 
ear to the key ; he drew in his breath ; he listened for 
some sound, but nothing was to be heard. A groan 
would have been almost music in his ears. 

" Another hour was gone ! He was now a prey to 
the most frightful apprehensions, agitated in turns by 
the wildest emotions of rage and terror. He at one 
moment imagined that Luke had abandoned him, and 


heaped curses upon his head ; at the next, convinced 
that he had fallen, he bewailed with equal bitterness 
his grandson's fate and his own. He paced the tomb 
like one distracted ; he stamped upon the iron plate ; 
he smote with his hands upon the door ; he shouted, 
and the vault hollowly echoed his lamentations. 
But Time's sand ran on, and Luke arrived not, 

" Alan now abandoned himself wholly to despair. 
He could no longer anticipate his grandson's coming — 
no longer hope for deliverance. His fate was sealed. 
Death awaited him. He must anticipate his slow 
but inevitable stroke, enduring all the grinding horrors 
of starvation. The contemplation of such an end was 
madness, but he was forced to contemplate it now ; 
and so appalling did it appear to his imagination, 
that he half resolved to dash out his brains against 
the walls of the sepulchre, and put an end at once 
to his tortures ; and nothing, except a doubt whether 
he might not, by imperfectly accomplishing his 
purpose, increase his own suffering, prevented him 
from putting this dreadful idea into execution. His 
dagger was gone, and he had no other weapon. Terrors 
of a new kind now assailed him. The dead, he fancied, 
were bursting from their coffins, and he peopled the 
darkness with grisly phantoms. They were round 
about him on each side, whirling and rustling, gibbering, 
groaning, shrieking, laughing, and lamenting. He 
was stunned, stifled. The air seemed to grow 
suffocating, pestilential ; the wild laughter was 
redoubled ; the horrible troop assailed him ; they 
dragged him along the tomb, and amid their howls 
he fell, and became insensible. 

" When he returned to himself, it was some time 
before he could collect his scattered faculties ; and 
when the agonising consciousness of his terrible 
situation forced itself upon his mind, he had nigh 
relapsed into oblivion. He arose. He rushed towards 
the door : he knocked against it with his knuckles 
till the blood streamed from them ; he scratched 
against it with his nails till they were torn off by the 


roots. With insane fury he hurled himself against 
the iron frame : it was in vain. Again he had recourse 
to the trap-door. He searched for it ; he found it. 
He laid himself upon the ground. There was no 
interval of space in which he could insert a finger's 
point. He beat it with his clenched hand ; he tore 
it with his teeth ; he jumped upon it ; he smote it 
with his heel. The iron returned a sullen sound. 

" He again essayed the lid of the sarcophagus. 
Despair nerved his strength. He raised the slab a 
few inches. He shouted, screamed, but no answer 
was returned ; and again the lid fell. 

" ' She is dead ! ' cried Alan. ' Why have I not 
shared her fate ? But mine is to come. And such a 
death ! — oh, oh ! ' And, frenzied at the thought, he 
again hurried to the door, and renewed his fruitless 
attempts to escape, till nature gave way, and he sank 
upon the floor, groaning and exhausted. 

" Physical suffering now began to take the place of 
his mental tortures. Parched and consumed with a 
fierce internal fever, he was tormented by unappeasable 
thirst — of all human ills the most unendurable. His 
tongue was dry and dusty, his throat inflamed ; his 
lips had lost all moisture. He licked the humid floor ; 
he sought to imbibe the nitrous drops from the walls ; 
but, instead of allaying his thirst, they increased it. 
He would have given the world, had he possessed it, 
for a draught of cold spring-water. Oh, to have died 
with his lips upon some bubbling fountain's marge ! 
But to perish thus ! 

" Nor were the pangs of hunger wanting. He had 
to endure all the horrors of famine as well as the 
agonies of quenchless thirst. 

" In this dreadful state three days and nights 
passed over Alan's fated head. Nor night nor day had 
he. Time, with him, was only measured by its 
duration, and that seemed interminable. Each hour 
added to his suffering, and brought with it no relief. 
During this period of prolonged misery reason often 
tottered on her throne. Sometimes he was under the 


influence of the wildest passions. He dragged coflins 
from their recesses, hurled them upon the ground, 
striving to break them open and drag forth their 
loathsome contents. Upon other occasions he would 
weep bitterly and wildly ; and once — once only — did 
he attempt to pray ; but he started from his knees 
with an echo of infernal laughter, as he deemed, 
ringing in his ears. Then, again, would he call down 
imprecations upon himself and his whole line, trampling 
upon the pile of coffins he had reared ; and, lastly, 
more subdued, would creep to the boards that contained 
the body of his child, kissing them with a frantic 
outbreak of affection. 

" At length he became sensible of his approaching 
dissolution. To him the thought of death might well 
be terrible ; but he quailed not before it, or rather 
seemed, in his latest moments, to resume all his wonted 
firmness of character. Gathering together his 
remaining strength, he dragged himself towards the 
niche wherein his brother. Sir Reginald Rookwood, was 
deposited, and, placing his hand upon the coffin, 
solemnly exclaimed, ' My curse — my dying curse — be 
upon thee evermore ! ' 

" Falling with his face upon the coffin, Alan instantly 
expired. In this attitude his remains were discovered." 
How to repress a smile at the picture conjured up 
of Lady Rookwood " precipitating herself into the 
marble coffin " ! How not to refrain from laughing 
at the fantastic description of Alan piling up coffins in 
the vault and jumping upon them ! 


Half a mile below Cuckfield stands Ansty Cross, (the 
" Handstay " of old road-books, and said to derive 
from the Anglo-Saxon, Heansti^e, meaning highway), 
a cluster of a few cottages and the " Green Cross " 
inn, once old and picturesque, now rebuilt in the 



Ready-made Picturesque order of architecture. Here 
stood one of the numerous turnpike-gates. 

Close by is Riddens Farm, a picturesque little 
homestead, with tile-hung front and clustered chimneys. 
It still contains one of those old Sussex cast-iron 
firebacks mentioned in an earlier page, dated 1622. 

Below Ansty, two miles or thereby down the road, 
the little river Adur is passed at Bridge Farm, and the 
twin towns of St. John's Common and Burgess Hill 
are reached. 

Before 1820 their sites were fields and common 
land, wild and gorse- covered, free and open. Few 
houses were then in sight ; the " Anchor " inn, by 
Burgess Hill, the reputed haunt of smugglers, who 
stored their contraband in the woods and heaths close 
by ; and the " King's Head," at St. John's Common, 
with two or three cottages — these were all. 

St. John's Common, partly in Keymer and partly 
in Clayton parishes, was enclosed piecemeal, between 
1828 and 1855, by an arrangement between the lords 
of the manors and the copyholders, who divided the 
plunder between them, when this large tract of land 
resent ly be- 
came the site of 
these towns of 
St.* John's Com- 
mon and Burgess 
Hill, which 
sprang up, if not 
with quite the 
rapidity of a 
mining-town, at 
least with a 
celerity pre- 
viously un- 
known in Eng- 
land. Their 
rapid rise was 
of course due to the Brighton Railway and its station. 



There are, however, nowadays not wanting signs, 
quite apart from the condition of the brick and tile 
and drainpipe-making industry, on which the two 
mushroom towns have come into being, that the 
unlovely places are in a bad way. Shops closed and 
vainly offered " to let " tell a story of artificial 
expansion and consequent depression : the inevitable 
Nemesis of discounting the future. 


I will show you what the site of these uninviting 
modern places was like, a hundred years ago. It is 
not far, geographically, from the sorry streets of Burgess 
Hill to the wild, wide commons of Wivelsfield and 
Ditchling ; but such a change is wrought in two 
miles and a half as would be considered impossible 
by any who have not made the excursion into those 


beautiful regions. They show us, iu survival, what 
the now hackneyed main roads were like three 
generations ago. 

In every circumstance Ditehling Common recalls 
the " CrackskuU Commons " of the eighteenth-century 
comedies, for it has a little horror of its own in the 
shape of an authentic fragment of a gibbet. This is 
the silent reminder of a crime committed near at hand, 
at the " Royal Oak " inn, Wivelsfleld, in 1734. In 
that year Jacob Harris, a Jew pedlar, came to the inn 
and, stabling his horse, attacked Miles, the landlord, 
while he was grooming the animal down, and cut his 
throat. The servant-maid, hearing a disturbance in 
the stable, and coming downstairs to see the cause of 
it, was murdered in the same way, and then the Jew 
calmly walked upstairs and slaughtered the landlord's 
wife, who was lying ill in bed. None of these 
unfortunate i^eople died at once. The two women 
expired the same night, but Miles lived long enough 
to identify the assassin, who was hanged at Horsham, 
his body being hung in chains from this gibbet, ever 
since known as Jacob's Post. 

Pieces of wood from this gallows-tree were long 
and highly esteemed by country-folk as charms, and 
were often carried about with them as preventatives 
of all manner of accidents and diseases ; indeed, its 
present meagre proportions are due to this practice 
and belief. 

The post is fenced with a wooden rail, and is sur- 
mounted by the quaint iron effigy of a rooster, pierced 
with the date, 1734, in old-fashioned figures. 

It is a lonely spot, with but one cottage near at 
hand : the common undulating away for miles until 
it reaches close to the grey barrier of the noble South 
Downs, rising magnificently in the distance. 



Returning to the exploited main road, Friar's Oak 
is soon reached. It was selected by Sir Conan Doyle 
as one of the scenes of his Regency story, " Rodney 
Stone " ; but since the year 1900, when the old inn 
was rebuilt, the spot has become an eyesore to those 
who knew it of old. 

No one knows why Friar's Oak is so called, and 
" Nothing is ever known about anything on the roads," 
is the intemperate exclamation that rises to the lips 
of the disappointed explorer. But wild legends, as 
usual, supply the place of facts, and the old oak that 
stands opposite the inn is said to have been the spot 
where a friar, or friars, distributed alms. To any 
one who knows even the least about friars, this story 
would at once carry its own condemnation ; but a 
friar, or a hermit, may have solicited alms here. At 
any rate, the old inn used to exhibit a very forbidding 
" friar of orders grey " as its sign, dancing beneath the 
oak. Stolen many years ago, it was subsequently 
discovered in London by the merest accident, was 
purchased for a trifling sum, and restored to its bereft 
signpost. The innkeeper, however, thinking that what 
befell once might happen again, himg the cherished 
panel within the house, where it remains to this day. 

From Friar's Oak it is but a step to that newest 
creation among Brighton's suburbs, Clayton Park, its 
clustering red-brick villas, building estates, and half- 
formed roads adjoining the station of Hassocks Gate, 
which, by the way, the railway authorities have long 
since reduced to " Hassocks." The name recalls 
certain dusty contrivances of straw and carpeting 
artfully contrived for the devout to stumble over in 
church. But, not to incur the suspicion of tripping 
over the name as here applied, it may be mentioned 
that " hassock " is the Anglo-Saxon name for 
a coppice or small wood ; and there are really 
many of these at and around Hassocks Gate to 
this day. 



At Stonepound a road leads on the right to Hurst- 
pierpoint, which is too big a mouthful for general 
use, and so is locally " Hurst." The Pierpoints, 
whose name is embedded in that of the place, like 
an ammonite in a geological stratum, were long since 
as extinct as those other Normans, the Monceaux 
of Hurstmonceaux, and are what Americans would 
term a " back number." 

Stone Pound Gate 

Clears Patcham Gate 

St. John's and Ansty Gates 


Patch am Gate 

Clears Stone Pound Gate, 

St. John's and Ansty Gates 


Stonepound Gate was one of the nine that at one 
time barred the Brighton Road, and the last but one 
on the way. It will be seen, by the specimens of turn- 
pike-tickets reprinted here, that at one time, at least, 
the burden of the tolls was not quite so heavy as the 
mere number of the gates would lead a casual observer 


to suppose, a ticket taken at Ansty " clearing " the 
remaining distance, through three other gates, to 
Brighton. But it was necessary for the traveller to 
know his way about, and, if he were going through, to 
ask for a ticket to clear to Brighton ; else the pikeman 
would issue a ticket, which cost just as much, to the 
next gate only, when another payment would be 
demanded. These were " tricks upon travellers " 
familiar to every road, and they earned the pikemen, 
as a class, a very unenviable reputation. 

It was here, in the great Christmas Eve snowstorm 
of 1836, that the London mail was snowed up. Its 
adventures illustrate the uncertainty of travelling the 

In those days you took your seat on your particular 
fancy in coaches, and paid your sixteen-shilling fare 
from London to Brighton, or vice versa, trusting (yet 
with heaviness of heart) in Providence to bring you 
to a happy issue from all the many dangers and 
discomforts of travelling. Occasionally it was brought 
honje, by storm and flood, to those learned enough to 
know it, that " travelling " derived originally from 
" travail," and the discomforts of leaving one's own 
fireside in the winter are emphasized and underscored 
in the particulars of what befell at Stonepound in 
the great snowstorm of December 24th, 1 836 — a storm 
that paralysed communications throughout the king- 

" The Brighton up-mail of Sunday had travelled 
about eight miles from that town, when it fell into a 
drift of snow, from which it was impossible to extricate 
it without assistance. The guard immediately set off 
to obtain all necessary aid, but when he returned no 
trace whatever could be found, either of the coach, 
coachman or passengers, three in number. After 
much difficulty the coach was found, but could not 
be extricated from the hollow into which it had got. 
The guard did not reach London until seven o'clock 
on Tuesday night, having been obliged to travel with 
the bags on horseback, and in many instances to leave 


the main road and proceed across fields in order to 
avoid the deep drifts of snow. 

" The passengers, coachman, and guard slept at 
Clayton, seven miles from Brighton. The road from 
Hand Cross was quite impassable. The non-arrival of 
the mail at Crawley induced the postmaster there to 
send a man in a gig to ascertain the cause on Monday 
afternoon, and no tidings being heard of man, gig, or 
horse for several hours, another man was despatched 
on horseback. After a long search he found horse and 
gig completely built up in the snow. The man was in 
an exhausted state. After considerable difficulty the 
horse and gig were extricated, and the party returned 
to Crawley. The man had learned no tidings of the 
mail, and refused to go out again on any such exploring 

The Brighton mail from London, too, reached 
Crawley, but was compelled to return. 

Such were the incidents upon which the Christmas 
stories, of the type brought into favour by Dickens, 
were built, but the stories are better to read than the 
incidents to experience. I am retrospectively sorry 
for those passengers who thus lost their Christmas 
dinners ; but after all, it was better to miss the turkey 
and the Christmas pudding than to be " mashed into 
a pummy " in railway accidents, such as the awful 
heart-shaking series of collisions which took place on 
Sunday, August 25th, 1861, in the railway tunnel 
through Clayton Hill. On that day, in that gloomy 
place, twenty-four persons lost their lives, and one 
hundred and seventy-five were injured. 

Three trains were timed to leave Brighton station 
on that fatal morning, two of them filled to crowding 
with excursionists ; the other, an ordinary train, well 
filled and bound for London. Their times for starting 
were 8, 8.5, and 8.30 respectively, but owing to delays 
occasioned by press of traffic, they did not set out until 
considerably later, at 8.28, 8.31, and 8.35. At such 
terribly short intervals were they started, in times 


when no block system existed to render such close 
following comparatively safe. 

Clayton Tunnel was already considered a dangerous 
place, and there was situated at either end (north and 
south entrances) a signal-cabin furnished with tele- 
graphic instruments and signal apparatus, by which 
the signalman at one end of the tunnel could com- 
municate with his fellow at the other, and could 
notify " train in " or " train out " as might happen. 
This practically formed a primitive sort of " block 
system," especially devised for use in this mile and a 
quarter's dark burrow. 

A " self-acting " signal placed in the cutting some 
distance from the southern entrance was supposed, 
upon the passage of every train, to set itself at 
" danger " for any following, until placed at " line 
clear " from the nearest cabin, but on this occasion 
the first train passed in, and the self-acting signal 
failed to act. 

The second train, following upon the heels of the 
first, passed all unsuspecting, and dashed from daylight 
into the tunnel's mouth, the signalman, who had not 
received a message from the other end of the tunnel 
being clear, frantically waving his red flag to stop it. 
This signal apparently unnoticed by the driver, the 
train passed in. 

At this moment the third train came into view, and 
at the same time the signalman was advised of the 
tunnel being clear of the first. Meanwhile, the driver 
of the second train, who had noticed the red flag, was, 
unknown to the signalman, backing his train out again. 
A message was sent to the north cabin for it, " train 
in " ; but the man there, thinking this to be a mere 
repetition of the first, replied, " train out," referring, 
of course, to the first train. 

The tunnel being to the southern signalman apparent- 
ly clear, the third train was allowed to proceed, and 
met, midway, away from daylight, the retreating second 
train. The collision was terrible ; the two rearward 
carriages of the second train were smashed to pieces, 


and the engine of the third, reared upon their wreck, 
poured fire and steani and sealding water upon the 
poor wretches who, wounded but not killed by 
the impact, were struggling to free themselves 
from the splintered and twisted remains of the two 

The heap of wreckage was piled up to the roof of 
the tunnel, whose interior presented a dreadful scene, 
the engine fire throwing a wild glare around, but 
partly obscured by the blinding, scalding clouds of 
steam ; while this suddenly created Inferno resounded 
with the prayers, shrieks, shouts, and curses of injured 
and scatheless alike, all fearful of the coming of another 
train to add to the already sufficiently hideous ruin. 

Fortunately no further catastrophe occurred ; but 
nothing of horror w as wanting, neither in the magnitude 
nor in the circumstances of the disaster, which long 
remained in the memories of those who read and was 
impossible ever to be forgotten by those who witnessed 


From these levels at Stonepound the South Downs 
come full upon the view, crowned at Clayton Hill 
with windmills. Ditchling Beacon to the left, and 
the more commanding height of Wolstonbury to the 
extreme right, flank this great wall of earth, chalk, and 
grass — Wolstonbury semicircular in outline and bare, 
save only for some few clumps of yellow gorse and other 
small bushes. 

Just where the road bends, and, crossing the railway, 
begins to climb Clayton Hill, the Gothic, battlemented 
entrance to Clayton Tunnel looms with a kind of 
scowling picturesqueness, well suited to its dark 
history, continually vomiting steam and smoke, like 
a hell's mouth. 

Above it rises the hill, with telegraph-poles and 
circular brick ventilating-shafts going in a long 


perspective above the chalky cutting in the road ; and 
on the left hand the little rustic church of Clayton, 
humbly crouching under the lee of the downs. 

" Clayton Hill ! " It was a word of dread among 
cyclists until, say, the year 1900, when rim- and back- 
pedalling brakes superseded the inefficient spoon- 
brake, acting on the front tyre. Coming from Brighton, 
the hill drops steeply into the Weald of Sussex, and 
not only steeply, but the road takes a sudden and 
perilous turn over the railway bridge, at the foot of 
the descent, precisely where descending vehicles not 
under control attain their greatest speed. Here many 
a cyclist has been flung against the brick wall of the 
bridge, and his machine broken and himself injured ; 
and seven have met their death here. Even in these 
days of good brakes a fatality has occurred, a cyclist 
being killed in November, 1902, in a collision with a 

From the summit of the downs the Weald is seen, 
spread out like a pictorial map, the little houses, the 
little trees, the ribbon-like roads looking like dainty 
models ; the tiny trains moving out of Noah's Ark 
stations and vehicles crawling the highways like 
objects in a minature land of make-believe. Looking 
southward, Brighton is seen — a pillar of smoke by day, 
a glowing, twinkling light at evening ; but for all it is 
so near, it has very little affected the old pastoral 
country life of the downland villages. The shepherds, 
carrying as of yore their Pyecombe crooks, still tend 
huge flocks of sheep, and the dull and hollow music 
of the sheep-bells remains as ev er the characteristic 
sound of the district. Next year the sheep vi'ill be 
shorn, just as they were when the Saxon churls worked 
for their Norman masters, and, unless a cataclysm of 
nature happens, they will continue so to be shorn 
centuries hence. 

But the shepherds have ceased to be vocal with the 
sheep-shearing songs of yore ; it seems that their 
modern accomplishment of being able to read has 
stricken them dumb. Neither the words nor the airs 


of the old shearing-songs will ever again awaken the 
echoes in the daytime, nor make the roomy interiors 
of barns ring o' nights, as they were wont to do lang- 
syne, when the convivial shearing supper was held, 
and the ale hummed in the cup, and, later in the 
evening, in the head also. 

But the Sussex peasant is by no means altogether 
bereft of his ancient ways. He is, in the more secluded 
districts, still a South Saxon ; for the county, until 
comparatively recent times remote and difficult, 
plunged in its sloughs and isolated by reason of its 
forests, has no manufactures, and the rural parts do 
not attract immigrants from the shires, to leaven his 
peculiarities. The Sussex folk are still rooted firmly 
in what Drayton calls their " queachy ground." 
Words of Saxon origin are still the staple of the country 
talk ; folk-tales, told in times when the South Saxon 
kingdom was yet a power of the Heptarchy, exist in 
remote corners, currently with the latest ribald song 
from the London halls ; superstitions linger, as may 
be proved by he who pursues his inquiries judiciously, 
and thought moves slowly still in the bucolic mind. 

The Norman Conquest left few traces upon the 
population, and the peasant is still the Saxon he ever 
has been ; his occupations, too, tend to slowness of 
speech and mind. The Sussex man is by the very 
rarest chance engaged in any manufacturing industries. 
He is by choice and by force of circumstances plough- 
man, woodman, shepherd, market-gardener, or carter, 
and is become heavy as his soil, and curiously old- 
world in habit. All which traits are delightful to the 
preternaturally sharp Londoner, whose nerves occupy 
the most important place in his being. These country 
folk are new and interesting creatures for study to 
him who is weary of that acute product of civilisation 
— the London arab. 

Sussex ways are, many of them, still curiously 
patriarchal. But a few years ago, and ploughing was 
commonly performed in these fields by oxen. 

Their cottages that, until a few years ago, were the 


same as ever, have recently been very largely rebuilt, 
much to the sorrow of those who love the picturesque. 
They were thatched, for the most part, or tiled, or 
roofed with stone slabs. A living-room with yawning 
fireplace and capacious settle was the chief feature of 
them. The floor was covered with red bricks. When 
the settle was drawn up to the cheerful blaze the 
interior was cosy. But many of the most picturesque 
cottages were damp and insanitary, and although they 
pleased the artist to look at, it by no means followed 
that they would have contented him to live in. 

Outside, in the garden, grew homely flowers and 
useful vegetables, and perhaps by the gnarled apple- 
tree there stood in the sun a row of bee-hives. Sussex 
superstition declared that they might, indeed, be 
purchased, but not for silver : 

If you wish your bees to thrive. 

Gold must be paid for ev'ry hive ; 

For when they're bought with otlier money. 

There will be neither swarm nor houey. 

The year was one long round of superstitious customs 
and observances, and it is not without them, even 
now. But superstition is shy and not visible on the 

In January began the round, for from Christmas 
Eve to Twelfth Day was the proper time for " worsling," 
that is " wassailing " the orchards, but more 
particularly the apple-trees. The country-folk would 
gather round the trees and chant in chorus, rapping 
the trunks the while with sticks : 

stand fast root, bear well top ; 

Pray, good God, send us a howling crop 

Ev'ry twig, apples big ; 

Ev'ry bough, apples cuow' ; 

Hats full, caps full. 

Full quarters, sacks full. 

These wassailing folk were generally known as 
" howlers " ; " doubtless rightly," says a Sussex 
archaeologist, " for real old Sussex music is in a minor 
key, and can hardly be distinguished from howling." 


This knowledge enlightens our reading of the pages 
of the Rev. Giles Moore, of Horsted Keynes, when he 
records : " 1670, 26th Dec., I gave the howling 
boys 6d. ; " a statement which, if not illumined by 
acquaintance with these old customs, would be 
altogether incomprehensible. 

Then, if mud were brought into the house in the 
month of January, the cleanly housewife, at other 
times jealous of her spotless floors, would have nothing 
of reproof to say, for was this not " January butter," 
and the harbinger of luck to all beneath the roof-tree ? 

Saints' days, too, had their observances ; the habits 
of bird and beast were the almanacs and weather 
warnings of the villagers, all innocent of any other 
meteorological department, and they have been 
handed down in doggerel rhyme, like this of the Cuckoo, 
to the present day : 

In April he shows his bill. 

In May he sings o' night and day, 

In June he'll change his tune, 

By July prepare to fly. 

By August away he must. 

If he stay till September, 

'Tls as much as the oldest man 

Can ever remember. 

If he stayed till September, he might possibly see 
a sight which no mere human eye ever beheld : he 
might observe a practice to which old Sussex folk 
know the Evil One to be addicted. For on Old 
Michaelmas Day, October 10th, the Devil goes round 
the country, and — dirty devil — spits on the black- 
berries. Should any persons eat one on October 11th, 
they, or some one of their kin, will surely die or fall 
into great trouble before the close of the year. 

Sussex has neither the imaginative Celtic race of 
Cornwall nor that county's fantastic scenery to inspire 
legends ; but is it at all wonderful that old beliefs die 
hard in a county so inaccessible as this has hitherto 
been ? We have read travellers' tales of woful 
happenings on the road ; hear now Defoe, who is 
writing in the year 1724, of another jiroof of heavy 


going on the highways : " I saw," says he, " an ancient 
lady, and a lady of very good quality, I assure you, 
drawn to church in her coach by six oxen ; nor was 
it done in frolic or humour, but from sheer necessity, 
the way being so stiff and deep that no horses could 
go in it." All which says much for the piety of this 
ancient lady. Only a few years later, in 1729, died 
Dame Judith, widow of Sir Henry Hatsell, who in 
her will, dated January 10th, 1728, directed that her 
body should be buried at Preston, should she happen 
to die at such a time of year when the roads 
were passable ; otherwise, at any place her executors 
might think suitable. It so happened that she died 
in the month of June, so compliance with her wishes 
was possible. 


AxD now to trace the Hickstead and Bolney route 
from Hand Cross, that parting of the ways overlooking 
the most rural parts of Sussex. Hand Cross, it has 
already been said, is in the parish of Slaugham, which 
lies deep down in a very sequestered wood, where the 
head-springs issuing from the hillsides are never dry 
and the air is always heavy with moisture. 
" Slougham-cum-Crole " is the title of the place in 
ancient records, " Crole " being Crawley. It was from 
its ancient bogs and morasses that it obtained its 
name, pronounced by the natives " Slaffam," and it 
was certainly due to them that the magnificent manor- 
house — almost a palace — of the Coverts, the old lords 
of the manor — was deserted and began to fall to pieces 
so soon as built. 

The Coverts, now and long since utterly extinct, 
were once among the most powerful, as they were also 
among the noblest, in the county. They were of 
Norman descent, and, to use a well-worn phrase, 
" came over with the Conqueror " ; but they are not 


found settled here until towards the close of the 
fifteenth century, being preceded, as lords of the manor, 
by the Poynings of Poynings, and by the Berkeleys 
and Stanleys. Sir Walter Covert, to whose ancestors 
the manor fell by marriage, was the builder of that 
Slaugham Place whose ruins yet remain to show his 
idea of what was due to a landed proprietor of his 
standing. They cover, within their enclosing walls of 
red brick, which rise from the yet partly filled moat, 
over three acres of what is now orchard and meadow- 
land. In spring the apple trees bloom pink and white 
amid the grey and lichen-stained ashlar of the ruined 
walls and arches of Palladian architecture, and the 
lush grass grows tall around the cold hearths of the 
roofless rooms. The noble gateway leads now, not 
from courtyard to hall, but doorless, with its massive 
stones wrenched apart by clinging ivy, stands merely 
as some sort of key to the enigma of ground plan 
presented by walls ruinated in greater part to the 
level of the watery turf. 

The singular facts of high wall and moat surrounding 
a mansion of Jacobean build seem to point to an 
earlier building, contrived with these defences when 
men thought first of security and afterwards of comfort. 
Some few muUioned windows of much earlier date 
than the greater part of the mansion remain to confirm 
the thought. 

That a building of the magnificence attested by 
these crumbling walls should have been allowed to 
fall into decay so shortly after its completion is a 
singular fact. Though the male line of the Coverts 
failed, and their estates passed, by the marriage of 
their womankind, into other hands, yet their alienation 
would not necessarily imply the destruction of their 
roof-tree. The explanation is to be sought in the 
situation and defects of the ground upon which 
Slaugham Place stood : a marshy tract of land, 
which no builder of to-day would think of selecting 
as a site for so important a dwelling. Home as it was 
of swamps and damps, and quashy as it is even now, 


it must have been in the past the breeding-ground of 
agues and chills innumerable. 

A true exemplar this of that Sussex of which in 
1690 a barrister on circuit, whose profession led him 
by evil chance into this county, writes to his wife : 
" The Sussex ways are bad and ruinous beyond 
imagination. I vow 'tis melancholy consideration 
that mankind will inhabit such a heap of dirt for a 
poor livelihood. The county is in a sink of about 
fourteen miles broad, which receives all the water that 
falls from the long ranges of hills on both sides of it, 
and not being furnished with convenient draining, is 
kept moist and soft by the water till the middle of a 
dry summer, which is only able to make it tolerable to 
ride for a short time." 

Such soft and shaky earth as this could not bear 
the weight of so ponderous a structure as was Slaugham 
Place : the swamps pulled its masonry apart and 
rotted its fittings. Despairing of victory over the 
reeking moisture, its owners left it for healthier sites. 
Then the rapacity of all those neighbouring folk who 
had need of building* material completed the havoc 
wrought by natural forces, and finally Slaugham 
Place became what it is to-day. Its clock-tower was 
pulled down and removed to Cuckfield Park, where it 
now spans the entrance drive of that romantic spot, 
and its handsomely carved Jacobean stairway is to-day 
the pride and glory of the " Star " Hotel at 

The Coverts are gone ; their heraldic shields, in 
company of an architectural frieze of greyhounds' and 
leopards' heads and skulls of oxen wreathed in drapery, 
still decorate what remains of the north front of their 
mansion, and their achievements are repeated u})on 
their tombs within the little church of Slaugham on 
the hillside. You may, if heraldically versed, learn 
from their quarterings into what families they married ; 
but the deeds they wrought, and their virtues and 
their vices, are, for the most part, clean forgotten, 
even as their name is gone out of the land, who once, 



as tradition has it, travelled southward from London 
to the sea on their own manors. 

The squat, shingled spirelet of Slaugham Church 
and its decorated architecture mark the spot where 
many of this knightly race lie buried. In the Covert 
Chapel is the handsome brass of John Covert, who died 
in 1503 ; and in the north wall of the chancel is the 
canopied altar-tomb of Richard Covert, the much- 
married, who died in l.")47, and is represented, in 
company of three of his four wives, by little brass 
effigies, together with a curious brass representing 
the Saviour rising from the tomb, guarded by armed 
knights of weirdly-humorous aspect, the more diverting 
because executed all innocent of joke or irreverence. 

Here is a rubbing, nothing exaggerated, of one of 
these guardian knights, to bear me up. 

Another Richard, but twice married, who died in 
1579, is com- 
memorated in a 
large and elab- 
orate monument 
in the Covert 
Chapel, whereon 
are sculptured, 
in an attitude 
of prayer, 
Richard him- 
self, his two 
wiv^es, six sons, 
and eight 

Last of the 
Coverts whose 
name is per- 
petuated here 
is Jane, who 

/^^ppQcpri 111 


Beside these 
things, Slaugham claims some interest as containing 


the mansion of Ashfold, where once resided Mrs. 
Matcham, a sister of Nelson. Indeed, it was while 
staying here that the Admiral received the summons 
which sped him on his last and most glorious and fatal 
voyage. Slaugham, too, with St. Leonard's Forest, 
contributes a title to the peerage. Lord St. Leonards' 
creation being of " Slaugham, in the county of Sussex." 


This route to Brighton is singularly rural and lovely, 
and particularly beautiful in the way of copses and 
wooded hollows, whence streamlets trickle away to 
join the river Adur. Villages lie shyly just off its 
course, and must be sought, only an occasional inn or 
smithy, or the lodge-gates of modern estates called 
into existence since the making of the road in 1813, 
breaking the solitude. The existence of Bolney itself 
is only hinted at by the pinnacles of its church tower 
peering o^"e^ the topmost branches of distant trees. 
" Bowlney," as the countryfolk pronounce the name, 
is worth a little detour, for it is a compact, picturesque 
spot that might almost have been designed by an 
artist with a single thought for pictorial composition, 
so well do its trees, the houses, old and new, the 
church, and the " Eight Bells " inn, group for effect. 
Down the road, rather over a mile distant from 
Bolney, and looking so remarkably picturesque from 
the highway that even the least preoccupied with 
antiquities must needs stop and admire, is Hickstead 
Place, a small but beautiful residence, the seat of Miss 
Davidson, dating from the time of Henry the Seventh, 
with a curious detached building in two (loors, of the 
same or even somewhat earlier period, on the lawn ; 
remarkable for the large vitrified bricks in its gables, 
worked into rough crosses and supposed to indicate a 
former use as a chapel. History, however, is silent 
that point ; but, as the inquirer may discover for 


himself, it now fulfils the twin offices of a studio and 
a lumber room. The parish church of Twineham, 
little more than a mile away, is of the same period, 
and built of similar materials. Hickstead Place has 
been in the same family for close upon four hundred 
years, and as an old house without much in the way 
of a history, and with its ancient features largely 
retained and adapted to modern domestic needs, is a 
striking example both of the continuity and the 
placidity of English life. The staircase walls are 
frescoed in a blue monochrome with sixteenth-century 
representations of field-sports and hunting scenes, very 
curious and interesting. The roof is covered with 
slabs of Horsham stone, and the oak entrance is 
original. Ancient yews, among them one clipped to 
resemble a bear sitting on his rump, give an air of 
distinction to the lawn, completed by a pair of 
eighteenth-century wrought-iron gates between red 
brick pillars. 

Sayers Common is a modern hamlet, of a few 
scattered houses. Albourne lies away to the right. 
From here the Vale of Newtimber opens out and the 
South Downs rise grandly ahead. Noble trees, singly 
and in groups, grow plentiful ; and where they are at 
their thickest, in the sheltered hollow of the hills, 
stands Newtimber Place, belonging to Viscount Buxton, 
a noble mansion with Queen Anne front of red brick 
and flint, and an Elizabethan back, surrounded by a 
broad moat of clear water, formed by embanking the 
beginnings of a little stream that comes welling out of 
the chalky bosom of the hills. It is a rarely complete 
and beautiful scene. 

Beyond it, above the woods where in spring the 
fluting blackbird sings of love and the delights of a 
mossy nest in the sheltered vale, rises Dale Hill, with 
its old toll-house. It was in the neighbouring Dale 
Vale that Tom Sayers, afterwards the unconquered 
champion of England, fought his first fight. 

He was not, as often stated, an Irishman, but the 
son of a man descended from a thoroughly Sussexian. 


stock. The name of Sayers is well known throughout 
Sussex, and in particular at Hand Cross, Burgess Hill, 
and Hurstpierpoint. There is even, as we have already 
seen, a Sayers Common on the road. Tom Sayers, 
however, was born at Brighton. He worked as a 
bricklayer at building the Preston Viaduct of the 
Brighton and Lewes Railway : that great viaduct 
which spans the Brighton Road as you enter the town. 
He retired in 1860, after his fight with Heenan, and 
when he died, in 1865, the reputation of prize-fighting 
died with him. 

At the summit of Dale Hill stands Pyecombe, 
above the junction of roads, on the rounded shoulder 
of the downs. The little rubbly and flinty churches 
of Pyecombe, Patcham, Preston, and Clayton are very 
similar in appearance exteriorly and all are provided 
with identical towers finished off with a shingled 
spirelet of insignificant proportions. This little 
Norman church, consisting of a tiny nave and chancel 
only, is chiefly interesting as possessing a triple chancel 
arch and an ancient font. 

Over the chancel arch hangs a painting of the Royal 
Arms, painted in the time of George the Third, faded 
and tawdry, with dandified imicorn and a gamboge 
lion, all teeth and mane, regarding the congregation 
on Sundays, and empty benches at other times, with 
the most amiable of grins. It is quite typical of 
Pyecombe that those old Royal Arms should still 
remain ; for the place is what it was then, and then it 
doubtless was what it had been in the days of good 
Queen Anne, or even of Elizabeth, to go no further 
back. The grey tower tops the hill as it has done 
since the Middle Ages, the few cottages cluster about it 
as of yore, and only those who lived in those humble 
homes, or reared that church, are gone. Making the 
circuit of the church, I look upon the stone quoins and 
the bedded flints of those walls ; and as I think how 
they remain, scarce grizzled by the weathering of 
countless storms, and how those builders are not 
merely gone, but are as forgotten as though they had 


never existed, I could have it in my heart to hate the 
insensate handiwork of man, to which he has given 
an existence : the unfeeUng walls of stone and flint 
and mortar that can outlast him and the memory of 
him by, it may well be, a thousand years. 


From Pyecombe we come through a cleft in the great 
chalk ridge of the South Downs into the country of 
the " deans." North and South of the Downs are two 
different countries — so different that if they were 
inhabited by two peoples and governed by two rulers 
and a frontier ran along the ridge, it would seem no 
strange thing. But both are England, and not merely 
England, but the same county of Sussex. It is a 
wooded, Wealden district of deep clay we have left, 
and a hungry, barren land of chalk we enter. But it is 
a sunny land, where the grassy shoulders of the mighty 
downs, looking southward, catch and retain the heat, 
and almost make you believe Brighton to be named 
from its bright and lively skies, and not from that 
very shadowy Anglo-Saxon saint, Brighthelm. 

The country of the deans is, in general, a barren 
country. Every one knows Brighton and its neighbour- 
hood to be places where trees are rare enough to be 
curiosities, but in this generally treeless land there are 
hollows and shallow valleys amid the dry chalky 
hillsides where little boscages form places for the eye, 
tired of much bright dazzling sunlight, to rest. These 
are the deans. Very often they have been made the 
sites of villages ; and all along this southern aspect 
of these hills of the Sussex seaboard you will find deans 
of various qualifications, from East Dean and West 
Dean, by Eastbourne, to Denton (which is, of course 
" Dean-ton ") near Newhaven, Rottingdean, Oving- 
dean, Balsdean, Standean, Roedean, and the two that 
are strung along these last miles into Brighton — 


Pangdean and Withdean. Most of these show the 
same characteristics of clustered woodlands in a 
sheltered fold of the hills, where a grey little flinty 
church with stunted spirelet presides over a few large 
farms and a group of little cottages. Time and 
circumstance have changed those that do not happen 
to conform to this general rule ; and, as ill luck will 
have it, our first " dean " is one of these nonconformists. 

Pangdean is a hamlet situated in that very forbidding 
spot where the downs are at their baldest, and where 
the chalk-heaps turned up in the making of the 
Brighton Railway call aloud for the agricultural 
equivalent of Tatcho and its rivals. It is little more 
than an unkempt farm and a roadside pond of dirty 
water where acrobatic ducks perform astonishing 
feats of agility, standing on their heads and exhibiting 
their posteriors in the manner of their kind. But 
within sight, down the stretch of road, is Patcham, 
and beyond it the hamlet of Withdean, more conform- 

Why Patcham is not nominally, as it is actually 
in form and every other circumstance, a " dean " is 
not clear. There it lies in the vale, just as a dean 
should and does do ; with sheltering ridges about it, 
and in the hollow the church, the cottages, and the 
woodlands. Very noble woodlands, too : tall elms 
with clanging rookeries, and, nestling below them, an 
old toll-house. 

Not so very old a toll-house, for it was the successor 
of Preston turnpike-gate which, erected on the out- 
skirts of Brighton town about 1807, was removed north 
of Withdean in 1854, as the result of an agitation set 
afoot in 1853, when the Highwa}^ Trustees were 
applying to Parliament for another term of years. 
It and its legend " NO TRUST," painted large for all 
the world to see, and hateful in a world that has ever 
preferred credit, were a nuisance and a gratuitous 
satire upon human nature. No one regretted them 
when their time came, December 31st, 1878 : least of 
all the early cyclists, who had the luxury of paying 



at Patchani Gate, and yielded their " tupjoences " 
with what grace they might. 

On the less hallowed north side of the churchyard 
of Patcham may still with difficulty be spelled the 
inscription : 

Sacred to the memory of DANIEL SCALES, 

who was unfortiinately shot on Thursday evening, 

November 7th, 1796. 

Alas ! swift flew the fatal lead. 

Which pierefed through the young man's head. 

He instant fell, resigned his breath. 

And closed his languid eyes in death. 

All you who do this stone draw near. 

Oh ! pray let fall the pitying tear. 

From this sad instance may we all. 

Prepare to meet Jehovah's call. 

It is a relic of those lawless old days of smuggling 
that are so dear to youthful minds. Youth, like the 
Irish peasant, is always anarchist and " agin the 
Government " ; and certainly the deeds of derring-do 
that were wrought by smuggler and Revenue officer 
alike sometimes stir even middle-aged blood. 

Smuggling was rife here. Where, indeed, was it 
not in those times ? and Daniel Scales was the most 
desperate of a 
daring gang. The 
night when he was 
shot," he, with 
many others of 
the gang, was 
coming from 
Brighton laden 
heavily with 
smuggled goods, 
and on the way 
they fell in with 
a number of 
soldiers and excise 
officers, near this 

place. The smugglers fled, leaving their casks of 
liquor to take care of themselves, careful only to 



make good their own escape, saving only Daniel Scales, 
who, met by a " riding officer," was called upon to 
surrender himself and his booty, which he refused to 
do. The officer, who himself had been in early days 
engaged in many smuggling transactions, but was now 
a brand plucked from the burning, and zealous for 
King and (Customs, knew that Daniel was " too good a 
man for him, for they had tried it out before," so he 
shot him through the head ; and as the bullet, like 
those in the nursery rhyme, was made of " lead, lead, 
lead," Daniel was killed. Alas ! poor Daniel. 

An ancient manorial pigeon-house or dovecot still 
remains at Patcham, sturdily built of Sussex ffints, 
banded with brick, and wonderfully buttressed. 

Preston is now almost wholly urban, but its Early 
English church, although patched and altered, still 
keeps its fresco representing the murder of Thomas a 
Becket, and that of an angel disputing with the Devil 
for the possession of a departed soul. The angel, 
like some celestial grocer, is weighing the shivering 
soul in the balance, while the Devil, sitting in one 
scale, makes the unfortunate soul in the other " kick 
the beam." 


It has very justly been remarked that Brighton is 
treeless, but that complaint by no means holds good 
respecting the approach to it through Withdean and 
Preston Park, which is exceptionally well wooded, the 
tall elms forming an archway infinitely more lovable 
than the gigantic brick arch of the railway viaduct 
that poses as a triumphal entry into the town. 

It is Brighton's ever-open front door. No occasion 
to knock or ring ; enter and welcome to that cheery 
town : a brighter, cleaner London. 

Brighton has renewed its youth. It has had ill 
fortune as well as good, and went through a middle 



period when, deserted by Royalty, and not yet fully 
won to a broader popularity, its older houses looked 
shabby and its newer mean. But that period has 
passed. What remains of the age of George the 
Fourth has with the lapse of time and the inevitable 
changes in taste, become almost archicologically 
interesting, and the newer Brighton approaches a 


Parisian magnificence and display. The Pavilion of 
George the Fourth was the last word in gorgeousness 
of his time, but it wears an old-maidish appearance of 
dowdiness in midst of the Brighton of the twentieth 

The Pavilion is of course the very hub of Brighton. 
The pilgrim from London comes to it past the great 
church of St. Peter, built in 1824, in a curious Gothic, 
and thence past the Level to the Old Steyne. The 
names of the terraces and rows of houses on either 
side proclaim their period, even if those characteristic 


semicircular bayed fronts did not : they are York 
Place, Hanover Terrace, Gloucester Place, Adelaide 
this, Caroline that, and Brunswick t'other : all names 
associated with the late Georgian period. 

The Old Steyne was in Florizel's time the rendezvous 
of fashion. The " front " and the lawns of Hove have 
long since usurped that distinction, but the gardens 
and the old trees of the Old Steyne are more beautiful 
than ever. They are the only few the town itself can 

Treeless Brighton has been the derision alike of 
Doctor Johnson and Tom Hood, to name no others. 
Johnson, who first visited Brighton in 1770 in the 
company of the Thrales and Fanny Burney, declared 
the neighbourhood to be so desolate that " if one had 
a mind to hang one's self for desperation at being 
obliged to live there, it would be difficult to find a tree 
on which to fasten a rope," At any rate it would 
have needed a particularly stout tree to serve Johnson's 
turn, had he a mind to it. Johnson was an ingrate, 
and not worthy of the good that Doctor Brighton 
wrought upon him. 

Hood, on the other hand, is jocular in an airier and 
lighter-hearted fashion. His punning humour (a kind 
of witticism which Johnson hated with the hatred of a 
man who delved deep after Greek and Latin roots) is 
to Johnson's as the footfall of a cat to the earth- 
shaking tread of the elephant. His, too, is a manner 
of gibe that is susceptible of being construed into praise 
by the townsfolk. " Of all the trees," says he, " I 
ever saw, none could be mentioned in the same breath 
with the magnificent beach at Brighton." 

But though these trees of the Pavilion give a grateful 
shelter from the glare of the sun and the roughness of 
the wind, they hide little of the tawdriness of that 
architectural enormity. The gilding has faded, the 
tinsel become tarnished, and the whole pile of cupolas 
and minarets is reduced to one even tint, that is not 
white nor grey, nor any distinctive shade of any 
colour. How the preposterous building could ever 


have been admired (as it undoubtedly was at one time) 
surpasses belief. Its cost, one shrewdly suspects — it is 
supposed to have cost over £1,000,000 — was what 
appealed to the imagination. 

That reptile Croker, the creature of that Lord 
Hertford whom one recognises as the " Marquis of 
Steyne " in " Vanity Fair," admired it, as assuredly 
did not rough-and ready Cobbett, who opines, " A good 
idea of the building may be formed by placing the 
pointed half of a large turnip upon the middle of a 
board, with four smaller ones at the corners." 

That is no bad description of this monument of 
extravagance and bad taste. Begun so early as 1784, 
it was, after many alterations, pullings-down and 
rebuildings, completed in 1818, with the exception of 
the north gate, the work of William the Fourth in 1832. 

The Pavilion was, in fact, the product of an ill- 
informed enthusiasm for Chinese architecture, mingled 
with that of India and Constantinople, and was built 
as a Marine Palace, to combine the glories of the 
Summer Palace at Pekin with those of the Alhambra. 
It suffers nowadays, much more than it need do, from 
the utter absence of exterior colouring. A judicious 
scheme of brilliant colour and gilding, in accordance 
with its style, would not only relieve the dull drab 
monotone, but would go some way to justify the 
Prince's taste. 

But, be it what it may, the Pavilion set the seal of 
a certain permanence upon the princely and royal 
favours extended to the town, whose population, 
numbered at 2,000 in 1761 and 3,600 in 1786, had 
grown to 5,669 by 1794 and 12,012 in 1811. In the 
succeeding ten years it had more than doubled itself, 
being returned in 1821 at 24,429. How Georgian 
Brighton is wholly swallowed up and engulfed in the 
modem towns of Brighton, Hove, and Preston is seen 
in the present population of 161,000 — the equivalent 
of nearly six other Brightons of the size of that in the 
last year of the reign of George the Fourth. 


One of the best stories connected with the Pavilion 
is that told so well in the " Four Georges " : 

" And now I have one more story of the bacchanalian 
sort, in which Clarence and York and the very highest 
personage in the realm, the great Prince Regent, all 
play parts. 

" The feast was described to me by a gentleman who 
was present at the scene. In Gilray's caricatures, and 
amongst Fox's jolly associates, there figures a great 
nobleman, the Duke of Norfolk, called Jockey of 
Norfolk in his time, and celebrated for his table 
exploits. He had quarrelled with the Prince, like 
the rest of the Whigs ; but a sort of reconciliation 
had taken place, and now, being a very old man, the 
Prince invited him to dine and sleep at the Pavilion, 
and the old Duke drove over from his Castle of Arundel 
with his famous equipage of grey horses, still 
remembered in Sussex. 

" The Prince of Wales had concocted with his royal 
brothers a notable scheme for making the old man 
drunk. Every person at table was enjoined to drink 
wine with the Duke — a challenge which the old toper 
did not refuse. He soon began to see that there was 
a conspiracy against him ; he drank glass for glass : 
he overthrew many of the brave. At last the first 
gentleman of Europe proposed bumpers of brandy. 
One of the royal brothers filled a great glass for the 
Duke. He stood up and tossed off the drink. ' Now,' 
says he, ' I will have my carriage and go home.' 

" The Prince urged upon him his previous promise 
to sleep under the roof where he had been so generously 
entertained. ' No,' he said ; ' he had had enough of 
such hospitality. A trap had been set for him ; he 
would leave the place at once, and never enter its doors 

" The carriage was called, and came ; but, in the 
half-hour's interval, the liquor had proved too potent 
for the old man ; his host's generous purpose was 
answered, and the Duke's old grey head lay stupefied 
on the table. Nevertheless, when his post-chaise was 


announced, he staggered to it as well as he could, and, 
stumbling in, bade the postilions drive to Arundel. 

" They drove him for half an hour round and round 
the Pavilion lawn ; the poor old man fancied he was 
going home. 

" When he awoke that morning, he was in a bed 
at the Prince's hideous house at Brighton. You may 
see the place now for sixpence ; they have fiddlers 
there every day, and sometimes buffoons and mounte- 
banks hire the Riding-House and do their tricks and 
tumbling there. The trees are still there, and the 
gravel walks round which the poor old sinner was 

Very telling indignation, no doubt, but the gross 
defect of Thackeray's " Four Georges " is its want of 
sincerity. Sympathy is wasted on that Duke, who 
was one of the filthiest voluptuaries of his age, or of 
any other since that of Heliogabalus. Charles Howard, 
eleventh Duke of Norfolk, was not merely a bestial 
drunkard, like his father before him, capable of drinking 
all his contemporaries under the table ; but was a 
swinish creature in every way. Gorging himself to 
repletion with food and drink, he would make himself 
purposely sick, in order to begin again. A contem- 
porary account of him as a member of the Beefsteak 
Club described him as a man of huge unwieldy fatness, 
who, having gorged until he had eaten himself into 
incapacity for speaking or moving, would motion for a 
bell to be rung, when servants, entering with a litter, 
would carry him off to bed. It was well written of 
him : 

On Norfolk's tomb inscribe this placard : 
He lived a beast and died a blackguard. 

This " very old," " poor old man " of Thackeray's 
misplaced sympathy did not, as a matter of fact, live 
to a very great age. He died in 1815, aged sixty-nine. 

Practical joking was elevated to the status of a 
fine art at Brighton by the Prince and his merry men. 
A characteristic story of him is that told of a drive to 
Brighton races, when he was accompanied in his great 


yellow barouche by Townsend, the Bow Street runner, 
who was present to protect the Prince from insult or 
robbery at the hands of the multitude. " It was a 
position," says my authority, " which gave His Royal 
Highness an opportunity to practise upon his guardian 
a somewhat unpleasant joke. Turning suddenly to 
Townsend, just at the termination of a race, he 
exclaimed, ' By Jove, Townsend, I've been robbed ; 
I had with me some damson tarts, but they are now 
gone.' ' Gone ! ' said Townsend, rising ; ' impossible ! ' 
' Yes,' rejoined the Prince, ' and you are the purloiner,' 
at the same time taking from the seat whereon the 
officer had been sitting the crushed crust of the asserted 
missing tarts, and adding, ' This is a sad blot upon your 
reputation as a vigilant officer.' ' Rather say, your 
Royal Highness, a sad stain upon my escutcheon,' 
added To^vnsend, raising the gilt-buttoned tails of his 
blue coat and exhibiting the fruit-stained seat of his 
nankeen inexpressibles." 


But it was not this practical -joking Prince who first 
discovered Brighton. It would never have attained 
its great vogue without him, but it would have been 
the health resort of a certain circle of fashion — an 
inferior Bath, in fact. To Dr. Richard Russell — the 
name sometimes spelt with one " 1 " — who visited the 
little village of Brighthelmstone in 1750, belongs the 
credit of discovering the place to an ailing fashionable 
world. He died in 1759, long ere the sun of royal 
splendour first rose upon the fishing-village ; but even 
before the Prince of Wales first visited Brighthelmstone 
in 1782, it had attained a certain popularity, as the 
" Brighthelmstone Guide " of July, 1777, attests, in 
these halting verses : 



This town or village of renown. 
Like London Bridge, half broken down. 
Few years ago was worse than Wapping, 
Not fit for a human soxil to stop in; 
But now, like to a worn-out shoe. 
By patching well, the place will do. 
You'd wonder much, I'm sure, to see 
How it's becramm'd with quality. 

And so on. 

Brighthelmstone, indeed, has had more Guides 
written upon it than even Bath has had, and very 


From the portrait by ZoUany. 

curious some of them are become in these days. They 
range from lively to severe, from grave to gay, from 
the serious screeds of Russell and Dr. Relhan, his 
successor, to the light and airy, and not too admirable 


puffs of to-day. But, however these guides may vary, 
they all agree in harking back to that shadowy Bright- 
helm who is supposed to have given his peculiar name 
to the ancient fisher-village here established time 
out of mind. In the days when " County Histories " 
were first let loose, in folio volumes, upon an unoffending 
land, historians, archaeologists, and other interested 
parties seemed at a loss for the derivation of the place- 
name, and, rather than confess themselves ignorant 
of its meaning, they conspired together to invent a 
Saxon archbishop, who, dying in the odour of sanctity 
and the ninth century, bequeathed his appellation to 
what is now known, in a contracted form, as Brighton. 

But the man is not known who has unassailable 
proofs to show of this Brighthelm's having so honoured 
the fisher-folk's, hovels with his name, 

Thackeray, greatly daring, considering that the 
Fourth George is the real patron — saint, we can hardly 
say ; let us make it king — of the town, elected to 
deliver his lectures upon the " Four Georges " at 
Brighton, among other places, and to that end made, 
with monumental assurance, a personal application at 
the Town Hall for the hire of the banqueting-room in 
the Royal Pavilion. 

But one of the Aldermen, who chanced to be present, 
suggested, with extra-aldermanic wit, that the Town 
Hall would be equally suitable, intimating at the same 
time that it was not considered as strictly etiquette 
to " abuse a man in his own house." The witty 
Alderman's suggestion, we are told, was acted upon, 
and the Town Hall engaged forthwith. 

It argued considerable courage on the lecturer's 
part to declaim against George the Fourth anywhere 
in that town which His Majesty had, by his example, 
conjured up from almost nothingness. It does not 
seem that Thackeray was, after all, ill received at 
Brighton ; whence thoughts arise as to the ingratitude 
and fleeting memories of them that were either in the 
first or second generation, advantaged by the royal 
preference for this bleak stretch of shore beneath the 


bare South Downs, open to every wind that blows. 
Surely gratitude is well described as a " lively sense 
of favours to come," and they, no doubt, considered 
that the statue they had erected in the Steyne gardens 
to him was a full discharge of all obligations. Nor is 
the history of that effigy altogether creditable. It was 
erected in 1828, as the result of a movement among 
Brighton tradesfolk in 1820, to honour the memory of 
one who had incidentally made the fortunes of so 
many among them ; but although the subscription 
list remained open for eight years and a half, it did 
not provide the £3,000 agreed upon to be paid to 
Chantrey, the sculptor of it. 

The bronze statue presides to-day over a cab- 
rank, and the sea-salt breezes have strongly oxidised 
the face to an arsenical green ; insulting, because 
greenness was not a distinguishing trait in the character 
of George the Fourth. 

The surrounding space is saturated with memories 
of the Regency ; but the roysterers are all gone and 
the recollection of them is dim. Prince and King, the 
Barrymores — Hellgate, Newgate, and Cripplegate — 
brothers three ; Mrs. Fitzherbert, " the only woman 
whom George the Fourth ever really loved," and whom 
he married ; Sir John Lade, the reckless, the frolicsome, 
historic in so far that he was the first who publicly 
wore trousers : these, with others innumerable, are 
long since silent. No more are they heard who with 
unseemly revelry affronted the midnight moon, or 
upset the decrepit watchman in his box. Those days 
and nights are done, nor are they likely to be revived 
while the Brighton policemen remain so big and 

With the death of George the Fourth the play 
was played out. William the P'ourth occasionally 
patronised Brighton, but decorum then obtained, and 
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert not only disliked 
the memory of the last of the Georges, but could not 
find at the Pavilion the privacy they desired. The 
Queen therefore sold it to the then Commissioners of 


Brighton in 1850, for the sum of £53,000, and never 
afterwards visited the town. 


The Pavilion and the adjoining Castle Square, where 
one of the old coach booking-offices still survives as a 
railway receiving-office, are to most people the ultimate 
expressions of antiquity at Brighton ; but there 
remains one landmark of what was " Brighthelmstone " 
in the ancient parish church of St. Nicholas, standing 
upon the topmost eyrie of the town, and overlooking 
from its crowded and now disused graveyard more 
than a square mile of crowded roofs below. It is 
probably the place referred to by a vivacious French- 
man who, a hundred and twenty years ago, summed up 
" Brigtemstone " as "a miserable village, commanded 
by a cemetery and surrounded by barren mountains." 
From here you can, with some trouble, catch just 
a glimpse of the watery horizon through the grey haze 
that rises from countless chimney-pots, and never a 
breeze but blows laden with the scent of soot and 
smoke. Yet, for all the changed fortune that changeful 
Time has brought this hoary and grimy place, it has 
not been deprived of interesting mementoes. You 
may, with patience, discover the tombstone of Phccbe 
Hassall, a centenarian of pith and valour, who, in her 
youthful days, in male attire, joined the army of His 
Majesty King George the Second and warred with her 
regiment in many lands ; and all around are the 
resting-places of many celebrities, who, denied a 
wider fame, have yet their place in local annals ; but 
prominent, in place and in fame, is the tomb of that 
Captain Tettersell who (it must be owned, for a 
consideration) sailed away one October morn of 1651 
across the Channel, carrying with him the hope of the 
clouded Royalists aboard his grimy craft. 



His altar-tomb stands without the southern doorway 
of the church, and reads curiously to modern ears. 
That not one of all the many who have had occasion 
to print it has transcribed the quaintness of that 
epitaph aright seems a strange thing, but so it is : 


Captain NICHOLAS TETTERSELL, through whose Prudence 
ualour an Loyalty Charles the second King of England & after he 
had escaped the sword of his merciless rebells and his florses received 
a fatall ouerthrowe at Worcester Sept"- 3^ 1651, was ftaithfully 
preserued & conueyed into flrance. Departed this life the 26ih day 
of I\ily 1674. 

-^ -^ -> 

Within this monument doth lye, 

Approued Ffaith, hono^ and Loyalty. 

In this Cold Clay he hath now tane up his static". 

At once preserued y* Church, the Crowne and nation. 

When Charles ye Create was nothing but a breat^ 

This uaUant soule stept betweene him & death. 

Usurpers threats nor tyrant rebells frowne 

Could not afrright his duty to the Crowne ; 

Which glorious act of his Church & state. 

Eight princes in one day did Gratulate 

Professing all to him in debt to bee 

As all the world are to his memory 

Since Earth Could not Reward his worth have give", 

Hee now receiues it from the King of heauen. 

The escape of Charles the Second, after many 
perilous adventures, belongs to the larger sphere of 
English history. Driven, after the disastrous result 
of Worcester Fight, to wander, a fugitive, through 
the land, he sought the coast from the extreme west 
of Dorsetshire, and only when he reached Sussex did 
he find it possible to embark and sail across the Channel 
to France. Hunted by relentless Roundheads, and 
sheltered on his way only by a few faithful adherents, 
who in their loyalty risked everything for him, he at 
length, with his small party, reached the village of 
Brighthelmstone and lodged at the inn then called 
the " George." 

That evening, after much negotiation, Colonel 
Gunter, the King's companion, arranged with Nicholas 
Tettersell, master of a small trading craft, to convey 


the King across to Fecamp, to sail in the early hours 
of the following morning, October 14th. How they 
sailed, and the account of their wanderings, are fully 
set forth in the " narrative " of Colonel Gunter. 


A NEW era for Brighton and the Brighton Road opened 
in November, 1896, with the coming of the motor-car. 
Already the old period of the coaching inns had waned, 
and that of gigantic and palatial hotels, much more 
luxurious than anything ever imagined by the builders 
of the Pavilion, had dawned ; and then, as though to 
fitly emphasize the transition, the old Chain Pier made 
a dramatic end. 

The Chain Pier just missed belonging to the Georgian 
era, for it was not begun until October, 1822, but, 
opened the following year, it had so long been a feature 
of Brighton — and so peculiar a feature — that it had 
come, with many, to typify the town, quite as much as 
the Pavilion itself. It was, moreover, additionally 
remarkable as being the first pleasure-pier built in 
England. It had long been failing and, condemned 
as dangerous, would soon have been demolished ; but 
the storm of December 4th, 1896, spared that trouble. 
It was standing when day closed in, but when the 
next morning dawned, its place was vacant. 

Since then, those who have long known Brighton 
have never visited it without a sense of loss ; and the 
Palace Pier, opposite the Aquarium, does not fill the 
void. It is a vulgarity for one thing, and for another 
typifies the Hebraic week-end, when the sons and 
daughters of Judah descend upon the town. More- 
over, it is absolutely uncharacteristic, and has its 
counterparts in many other places. 

But Brighton itself is eternal. It suffers change, 
it grows continually ; but while the sea remains and 
the air is clean and the sun shines, it, and the road to it, 
will be the most popular resorts in England. 



Ainsworth, W. Harrison 209-222 

Albourne 248 

Ansty Cross 9:{, 222 

Aram, Eugene 172 

" Autopsy," Steam Carritige 37, 63, 88 

Banks, Sir Edward 136 

Banstead Downs 159-161 

Barrymore, The 6, 192, 267 

Belmont 159 

Benhilton 156 

Bicycles 64-71, 74-79, 85-91 

Bird, Lieutenant Edward, murderer 169-172 

Bolney 200, 243, 246 

" Boneshaliers " 65 

Brighton 2, 12, 37, 255-272 

Railway opened 42 

Road Records tabulated 88-91 

Routes to 1-4 

Brixton 92, 97-100 

Hill 68, 93, 98, 105 

Broad Green 108, 129 

Burgess Hill 223 

Burgh Heath 159-161 

Carriers, The 11-14 

Charles II 270 

Charlwood 175 

Chipstead 135-138 

Clayton 93, 102, 231, 250 

Hill 25, 229, 231-232 

Tunnel 229-231 

Coaches : — 

Accommodation 26 

Age 29, 30, 35 

1852-1862 42, 45, 47 

1875-1880, 1882-3 46 

Alert 33, 34 

Cobxirg 30 

Comet 33 

1887-1899, 1900 46, 49, 55 

Coronet 33 

Criterion 41, 64, 74, 88 

Dart 33 

Defiance 28, 46 

1880 — 

Duke of Beaufort 31 

" Flying Machine," coach 18-22 

Life-Preserver 30 

Magnet 33 

Mails, The 23, 26, 28, 33, 34, 42 

Old Times, 1866 45 

1888 49-51 

Quicksilver 38 

Red Rover 41, 63, 88 

Regent 33 

Sovereign 33 



Coaches — continued — 

Times 33 

Union 33 

Venture (A. G. Vanderbilt) 61 

Victoria 42 

VigUant, 1900-05 — 

Wonder 38 

Coaching 5, 11-14, 18-34, 37-49, 228 

Coaching Notabilities : — 

Angel, B.J 45,46 

Armytage, Col 45 

Batchelor, Jas 14 

Beaufort, Dulie of 45, 46 

Beckett, Capt. H. L 46 

Blyth, Capt 46 

Bradford, " MiUer " 26 

Clark, George 45 

Cotton, Sir St. Vincent 29, 45 

Fitzgerald, Mr 45 

Fownes, Edvvin 46 

Freeman, Stewart 46, 49 

Gwynne, Sackville Frederick 29 

Harboiir, Cliarles 41, 64 

Haworth, Capt 45, 46 

Jerningham, Hon. Fred 29 

Lawrie, Capt 45 

Londes borough. Earl of 46 

McCalmont, Hugh 46 

Meek, George 46 

Pole, E. S. Chandos 45, 46 

Pole-Gell, Mr 46 

Sandys, Hon. H 49 

Selby, Jas 41, 49. 64, 73, 74. 75, 89 

Stevenson, Henry 29, 30 

Stracey-Clitherow, Col 46 

Thynne, Lord H 45 

Tiffany, Mr 46 

Vanderbilt, Alfred Gwynne 61 

Wemyss, Randolph 49 

Wiltshire, Earl of 46 

Worcester, Marquis of 29, 38 

Coaching Records 41, 64, 73, 74. 88, 89 

Cold Blow 159 

Colliers' Water 108 

Colliers of CYoydon 108 

Coulsdon 131, 133 

County Oak 178 

Covert, Family of 238-244 

Crawley 93, 173, 182-195 

Crawley Downs 191-193 

Croydon 106-123 

Cuckfield 30, 202-209 

Place 209-222, 242" 

CYcUng 64-71, 74-79, 85-91 

Cj'cling NotabiUtiea : — 

Edge, Selwyn Francis 75, 76, 89 

Holbein, M. A 74 

Mavall, John, Junior 66-69, 70, 88 

Shorland, F. W 74, 89 

Smith, C. A 75, 76, 77, 89 

Turner, Rowley B 66, 67, 69 

Cycling Records 68-79, 85-91 

Dale 93, 248, 250 

Dance, Sir Charles 37, 39 



Ditchling 224 

Driving Records 63, 73, 194 

Eariswood Coiumou 93, 146, 148 

Fauntleroy, Ilonry 196 

Foxley Hatch 93, 126 

Frenches 93, 145 

Friar's Oak 226 

Gatton 141-145, 164 

Gatwlck 155 

George IV., Prince Regent and King, 3, 6, 8-11, 24, 62, 
88, 132, 191-194, 256-262, 266 

Hancock, Walter 34, 88 

Hand Cross 24, 93, 196, 198-201 

Hill 61 

Hassall, Phcebe 268 

Hassocks 226 

Hayvvard's Heath 205 

Hickstead 200, 245 

" Hobby-horses " 65 

Holmesdalo 172 

Hoolcy 136 

Horley 93, 149, 161-155, 173 

Ifield 175, 178-182. 188 

" Infant," Steam Carriage 37 

Inns (mentioned at length) : — 

Black Swan, Pease Pottage 195 

Chequers, Horley 152 

Cock, Sutton 159 

Friar's Oak 24, 226 

George, Borough 12-14 

Crawley 114, 187, 189 

Golden Cross, Charing Cross 20, 33 

Green Cross, Ansty Cross 222 

Greyhound, Croydon 114 

Sutton 159 

Hatchett's («*?« White Horse Cellar). 

Old King's Head, Croydon 115 

Old Ship, Brighton 12 

Red Lion, Hand Cross 200 

Six Bells, Horley 153 

Surrey Oaks, Parkgate 179 

Tabard, Borough (xce Talbot). 

Talbot. Borough 12-14, 17 

Talbot, Cuckfleld 206 

Tangier, Banstcad Downs 160 

White Horse Cellar, Piccadilly 34 

Jacob's Post 224 

Johnson, Dr. Samuel 102-106, 257 

Kenncrsley 173 

Keimington 92-96 

Kimberham Bridge 173 

Kingswood 162 



Lade, Sir Johu 267 

Lemon, Mark 190 

Little Hell ' ,.159 

Lowfleld Heath 173-175, 182 

^[orstham 93, 134, 138-141 

Milestones 126-130, 159, 163 

Mitcham 155 

Mole, River 149, 152, 173-175, 196 

Motor-cars 50, 53, 54, 57-61, 63 

Motor-car Day, Nov. 14th, 1896 53-60 

Motor-omnibus, Accident to 60 

Newdigate 176 

Newtiniber 247, 248 

Norbury 105 

Old-time Travellers : — 

Burton, Dr. John 16 

Cobbett, WilUam 161, 165, 168, 178 

George IV., Prince Regent and King {see 

" George the Fourth.") 
Walpole, Horace 16-18 

Pangdean 253 

Patcham 25, 93, 250, 251-255 

Pavilion, The 256-261, 268 

Pease Pottage 195, 197 

Pedestrian Records 64, 69, 72, 75, 79-91 

Pilgrims' Way, The 164 

Povey Cross 155, 173, 175 

Preston 93, 250, 255 

Prize-fighting 5. 191, 248-250 

Pugilistic Notabilities : — 

Cribb, Tom 190 

Fe^vterel 132 

Hickman, " The Gas-Light Man " 192 

Jackson, " Gentleman " 132, 159 

Martin, " Master of the Rolls " 5, 192 

Randall, Jack, " the Nonpareil " 5, 192 

Sayers, Tom 248 

Purley 93, 121-125, 130, 176 

Pyecombe 200, 249, 250 

Railway to Brighton opened 42, 131 

" Records " 61-91 

(See severally. Coaching, Cj'cling, Driving 
Pedestrian, and Riding). 

Tabulated 88-91 

Redhill 93, 145 

Reigate 27, 93, 164-172 

Hill 162-164 

Riding Records 62, 88 

Roman Roads 102 

" Rookwood " 209-222 

Routes to Brighton 1-4 

Rowlandson, Thomas 157, 185, 187, 203, 263 

Ruskin, John 106, 115 

Russell of Killowen, Baron 161 

RusseU (or Russel), Dr. Richard 262 



St. John's Common 103, 223 

St. Leonard's Forest 196, 199 

Salfords 93, 149, 173 

Sayers Common 248 

8idlow Bridge 173 

Slaugham 238-246 

Place 240-242 

Slough Green 93 

Smitham Bottom 68, 129, 131-133, 136 

Southwark 12-14 

Staplefleld Common 200 

Steam Carriages 34, 37, 50, 63 

Stoat's Nest 132 

Stock Exchange Walk 80-82 

Stonepound 93, 227, 231 

Streatham 100, 103-105, 107 

Surrey Iron Railway, The 122, 136 

Sussex Roads 15, 178, 237, 242, 237, 242 

Sutton 93, 156-159, 161 

Tadwortih Court 161 

TetterseU, Captain 268, 270 

Thackeray. W. M 9, 10, 266 

Thornton Heath 103. 105-108 

Thralc Place 103-105 

Thrales, The 103-105 

Thimderfield Castle 149-152 

Tilgate Forest Row 173, 196 

Tooke, John Home 124 

Turnpike Gates 92, 126, 145, 195, 226-228, 253 

Velocipedes 65-69 

Walking Records (»ee Pedestrian Records). 

Westminster Bridge 1. 3, 14, 129 

Whlteman's Green 202 

Whitgift, ArchbLshop 109-114 

Wilderness Bottom 161 

Withdean 253, 255 

Wivelsfleld 224 

Woodhatch 93 

Wray Park 93 


Los Angeles 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 

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